care workforce needs and to establish regional targets and plans for appropriately increasing the supply of health professionals. Additionally, understanding of the impact of innovations such as bundled payments, medical homes, accountable care organizations, health information technology, and comparative effectiveness will be incomplete without information on and analysis of the necessary contributions of the various types of health professionals. Data collection and analysis across the health professions will also be essential because of the overlap in scopes of practice for primary care providers such as physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners and the increasing shift toward team-based care. In the specific context of this study, planning for fundamental, wide-ranging changes in the education and deployment of the nursing workforce will require comprehensive data on the numbers and types of nurses currently available and required to meet future needs. Once an infrastructure for collecting and analyzing workforce data is in place, systematic assessment and projection of nursing workforce requirements by role, skill mix, region, and demographics will be needed to inform necessary changes in nursing practice and education.
The ACA mandates the creation of a National Health Care Workforce Commission whose mission is, among other things, to “[develop] and [commission] evaluations of education and training activities to determine whether the demand for health care workers is being met,” and to “[identify] barriers to improved coordination at the Federal, State, and local levels and recommend ways to address such barriers.”3 The ACA also authorizes a National Center for Workforce Analysis, as well as state and regional workforce centers, and provides funding for workforce data collection and studies. A priority for these new structures and resources should be systematic monitoring of the supply of health care workers across professions, review of the data and methods needed to develop accurate predictions of future workforce needs, and coordination of the collection of data on the health care workforce at the state and regional levels. To be most useful, the data and information gathered must be timely and publicly accessible.
Recommendation 1: Remove scope-of-practice barriers. Advanced practice registered nurses should be able to practice to the full extent of their education and training. To achieve this goal, the committee recommends the following actions.
For the Congress:
Expand the Medicare program to include coverage of advanced practice registered nurse services that are within the scope of practice under applicable state law, just as physician services are now covered.