With proponents of health care reform expecting tens of millions of uninsured individuals to be covered by a health plan, and the number of nurse practitioners accelerating, federal officials want to collect and crunch data on the role of NPs now and in the future.

"Despite the increasing number and roles of NPs, unfortunately, there are currently only limited, inconsistent data available to policy makers and the health care community," according to a notice published Nov. 23 in the Federal Register. "Accordingly, it is difficult for these leaders to quantify or fully understand the role of NPs in the current (or future projected course of the) health care system. In fact, it is difficult to estimate with confidence the number of NPs practicing in the U.S. today."

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