Easing restrictions on nurse practitioners, as Texas has done with a new state law, greatly increases the number of patients receiving primary care, according to a study released Monday by UTMB. States with the fewest restrictions had 2.5 times more patients receiving primary care from nurse practitioners, lower Medicare expenditures and lower death rates, according to the study published in the July edition of the journal Health Affairs. The study is especially relevant because of the expected increase in demand for primary care as the Affordable Care Act takes effect, bringing millions of uninsured into the medical system, said researcher Yong-Fang Kuo, lead author of the UTMB study. The news also appears in the Houston Business Journal.