Alberta nurses call for new direct billing model

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Alberta nurses call for new direct billing model

There are over 800 nurse practitioners in Alberta, according to the NPAA.

The Nurse Practitioners Association of Alberta (NPAA) called on the provincial government on Wednesday to implement a direct billing model for its members, similar to that for physicians.

Currently, only nurse practitioners and family physicians are licensed to provide frontline health care in Alberta, the NPAA explains. Nurse practitioners can, among other things, write prescriptions, order tests or clinical examinations and refer patients to other specialists.

However, some nurse practitioners choose not to practice in front-line health networks in Alberta, because there is no billing model for them, laments the NPAA.

We can only be compensated; as employees of a company. So we are hired and paid by a primary care network, explains the president of the association, Susan Pendrergast.

In addition, the compensation offered for nurse practitioners does not adequately reflect their skills, as explained by the president of the NPAA. We currently work in a restrictive environment with a salary that minimizes our experience, our education and our significant field of competence, she says.

A redesign of the reimbursement model would bring more nurse practitioners into the frontline healthcare system by providing fairer compensation, says Susan Prendergast.

The NPAA has previously presented a proposal for a government funding model based on those in effect elsewhere in Canada or the United States, as Susan Prendergast points out.

According to her, this change could allow nurse practitioners to open their own clinics, in order to meet the demand for primary care.

With this model, Alberta has [the opportunity] to improve access to the front-line health care system with a 20% reduction in costs, compared to the pay-per-service or per-doctor model, adds Susan Prendergast.

The NPAA also believes it would increase access to care in remote and rural areas. She says more than 800 nurse practitioners work in Alberta.

With information from Marc-Antoine Leblanc

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