2023 Legislative Update

TAPA continued to push for OPT again this legislative session. Some may ask, why is this important? The reality is that in states where nurse practitioners have independent practice, PAs have lost their jobs - literally overnight, in some cases - because the oversight and regulations for hiring nurse practitioners is more favorable to employers. If we are complacent and  continue the status quo in our state, Tennessee PAs could face the same fate.

In Tennessee, PAs and nurse practitioners have enjoyed practice parity for decades and many practices utilize the two professions interchangeably. However, APRNs in Tennessee have been pushing for changes to their practice act for many years and if they achieve full practice authority, it could be devastating for the PA profession if PAs don’t push for, and receive, the same concessions to our practice act.

As in Tennessee, PAs across the country are pushing for OPT. So far, six (6) states allow PAs to practice without physician supervision/collaboration, and many other states have legislation pending. In states where nurse practitioners already have independent practice, the passage of OTP for PAs is an easier lift. In states like ours where nurse practitioners do not have independent practice, it is a tougher fight.

TAPA leadership wants to maintain a favorable practice environment for PAs in our state, and they don’t want to lose quality PAs to states that have OTP. Our state faces a provider shortage as it is, and this will only exacerbate it.

Therefore, TAPA will continue to invest time and resources into this fight. To achieve success, each and every PA licensed in Tennessee needs to do their part by being a member of TAPA, contacting their elected officials, donating to the political action committee (PAC) and engaging in grassroots lobbying for our bill.

This year, TAPA’s OTP bill (SB 1171) was passed unanimously out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. The nurses have never gotten a bill out of committee, so this was a big victory for PAs! SB 1171 was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee but just before the committee meeting was to begin, our bill sponsor was informed that Lt. Gov. McNally wanted him to pull our bill. This was very disappointing as we had reached out to McNally’s office several times to discuss any concerns he may have had about the bill, but we never received a response.

Because the Senate version of the bill was not going to make it out of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee this session, TAPA leadership opted to “pause” both it and the House version (HB 1272) until 2024. This means that we will be able to pick up where we left off, without having to start over with a new bill and go back through Senate Commerce and Labor.

Throughout the summer and fall, TAPA will continue to meet with key legislators to educate them about PAs and gain their support. In January 2024, we will be ready to continue this fight. We hope we can count on all PAs in Tennessee to engage in this endeavor.

New Laws - Several new laws of interest to PAs were passed this legislative session. Click here for an overview and details.

TAPA members with practice or regulatory questions can contact the TAPA office for assistance. 

How can Tennessee PAs get engaged in the legislative process?

1. Be a member of TAPA. Your membership dues help fund the Academy's activities, including hiring lobbyists and PR firms. 

2. Contribute to TAPA's Political Action Committee (PAC). TAPA's PAC makes donations to legislators and candidates who support PA practice. Running a successful campaign is expensive, and TAPA needs to support those candidates who support us. Consider setting up a monthly contribution that adds up to significant support by the end of the year.

3. Attend TAPA's PA Day on the Hill. The next one is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. Put that on your calendar, ask for the day off from work, and plan to join your colleagues in Nashville as they lobby for change.

The Tennessee General Assembly has adjourned for the year. They will reconvene on Jan. 19, 2024, and TAPA has a lot of work to do before then. Stay tuned!