Nurses Association Wants Nurse Practitioners to Own Medical Clinics

Under current law, only physicians can have a controlling share of the ownership of for-profit medical offices and clinics. HB 2465 would amend the statute to allow nurse practitioners to own half or all of these businesses.

The Oregon Nurses Association would like a change in the law governing for-profit medical practices to allow nurse practitioners to own half or all of such clinics, a right currently limited to physicians.

Currently, “a nurse practitioner is prohibited of being a majority owner,” said Tom Doyle, an attorney for the Nurses Association. “A nurse practitioner could not be in a co-ownership with a physician. … It’s simply an ownership question, it does not change the scope of practice.”

House Bill 2465 is sponsored by Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, Rep. Bill Kennemer, R-Canby, and Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham.

“We have an arbitrary barrier to ownership,” said Kennemer. “It’s an equity disparity. This [bill] increases access to care.”

In past sessions, Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, has objected to an expansion of for-profit businesses in healthcare, quashing a popular bill that would have allowed entrepreneurs -- with no medical expertise -- to operate for-profit clinics in rural areas, which often struggle to support so much as a doctor’s office.

HB 2465, however, is narrowly tailored to nurse practitioners, and Greenlick has been a strong supporter of the Oregon Nurses Association.

“It’s still in spirit of the doctrine -- that they are not profit-driven and still in the interest of the patient,” said nurses lobbyist Jenn Baker.

Nurse practitioners can own and operate offices regulated by the Board of Nursing -- just not those that legally “practice medicine” -- something only a physician or physician assistant may do. Advance practice nurses would still be regulated in their healthcare work by the Nursing Board, but HB 2465 would allow them to own or co-own a medical practice with a physician or employ a physician or physician assistant.

Baker said that as some doctors give up their private practices, the change in law would allow the offices to stay open under nurse practitioner ownership. She noted that there is no equivalent barrier to physicians owning nurse practitioner’s offices.

It may also ease the path for entrepreneurs to open offices and clinics in rural areas, since they could partner with a nurse practitioner and not just a physician.

The sole physician on the House Health Committee, Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, viewed HB 2465 with some skepticism, and the Oregon Medical Association lobbyist Courtni Dresser opposed the bill as it was written, although she supported the concept and was interested in negotiating an agreeable change to the statute with Baker.

Greenlick designated a freshman member of his committee, Rep. Sheri Malstrom, D-Beaverton, to broker an agreement. Malstrom has three decades’ experience as a public health nurse, and was first elected last November to the seat formerly held by the new state treasurer, Tobias Reed.

Chris can be reached at [email protected].