PUBLISHED:July 13, 2015

Third-year students Jaep and Bailey collaborate on report examining proposed Pennsylvania health care legislation

A research project by rising third-year Duke Law students Kyle Jaep and John Bailey shows that giving nurse practitioners expanded autonomy known as “full practice authority” would save Pennsylvania at least $6.4 billion in savings over 10 years.

Bailey and Jaep conducted their research as part of a health law class taught by Professor Barak Richman. Students were instructed to look at current policy challenges and debates and were researching proposals that spoke to issues before the immediate attention of policymakers, said Richman, the Edgar P. and Elizabeth C. Bartlett Professor of Law and Professor of Business Administration.

“This is a terrific instance of student research having a real impact,” Richman said. “That’s the essence of their research – measuring, in dollars and cents, how much Pennsylvania citizens will save if this new rule becomes law.”

Advocacy groups are using the research as part of an effort to pass bills that would end a government mandate that nurse practitioners obtain business contracts with physicians in order to practice. Full practice authority has been adopted by 21 states and Washington, D.C., and is endorsed  by the AARP, the Institute of Medicine, the National Governors Association, the Federal Trade Commission and other nonpartisan organizations.

Passing the legislation would particularly benefit patients living in rural areas, and those who are disabled or dual Medicare-Medicaid eligible, the students found.

“Easing restrictions on nurse practitioner scope of practice laws will increase access to affordable, quality health care,” Jaep said. “Reform will both improve health and save money for Pennsylvanians.”

Researching the report involved tracking legal, economic, and political information, an experience that Jaep described as valuable – and challenging.

“It was great to work on something that was immediately relevant,” Jaep said. “Seeing the interplay between the economic experts, the legal experts, and the lobbyists was enlightening. But it was challenging to keep our legal conclusions tied to the underlying economics. We had to make sure everything we stated was backed by robust economic research. Professor Richman really helped us achieve that balance.”

Read report summary.

Read full report.