The increased use of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) represents an important option for increasing access to healthcare. I explore the effect of two types of laws on the supply of NPs and PAs: occupational licensing laws that limit the practices of NPs and PAs and caps on noneconomic damages. Relaxing licensing laws to allow NPs to practice with less physician oversight increases the supply of NPs in areas with few practicing physicians by 60 percent - though the size of this increases as the supply of physicians grows. I find similar, but weaker, evidence for granting PAs more autonomy. Noneconomic damages caps increase the supply of both NPs and PAs by about 60 percent at the lowest levels of physician supply. Examining the effects of these laws on the prevalence of health professional shortage areas, I find that licensing laws have meaningful effects on access to care.
Beyond Physicians: The Effect of Licensing and Liability Laws on the Supply of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants,
J. Empirical Legal Stud.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.ua.edu/fac_articles/656