CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is expanding the role of nurse practitioners in its network.
The state's largest insurer said this week it will allow nurses to participate in its healthcare provider network as primary care physicians. Until now, CareFirst has only permitted nurses to practice independently of physicians in underserved areas with limited access to doctors.
The insurer is making the change as health care reform is expected to add hundreds of thousands of people to the rolls and put tremendous pressure on primary physicians when it is fully implemented in 2014. Many believe nurses will take on many of the roles of these doctors.