Bill Seeks Equal Pay for Health Workers

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MEDFORD, Ore. — A new bill aims to ensure equal pay for health providers who perform the same services. Supporters say nurse practitioners and physicians assistants are providing more primary care, but are not being paid equally by insurance companies.

House Bill 2902 claims that nurse practitioners and physicians assistance are often providing the same service as traditional doctors, and they should be reimbursed the same way. That bill passed the House by a 39 to 20 vote, and is now going to the Oregon Senate.

Nurse practitioner Jason Jex wrote two letters to lawmakers in support of the bill. He says more and more nurse practitioners and physicians assistants are becoming the primary source for their patients’ health care needs, but he says it’s not being reflected in the final bills because insurance company pay out less if the work is not being done by a doctor.

“The patient’s still paying the same, but then they’re reimbursing nurse practitioners and PAs at a lower level,” Jex explained.

State Senator Alan Bates, who is also a doctor, said the bill is close to something he can support, but says there still need to be changes made. Doctor Bates said he thinks nurse practitioners should get equal reimbursement if they are in rural areas where there are fewer doctors, or if they work in partnership with doctors. He also said doctors take on added responsibilities with more complicated cases and insurance responsibilities. He says ideally they would continue to work alongside physicians.