Continuing coverage: A new UTMB study looked at the growth in care provided by nurse practitioners from 1998 to 2010 using state records and national Medicare data. The researchers found that the number of patients seeing nurse practitioners as their primary care provider is on the upswing. In 1998, only 0.2 percent of Medicare patients nationwide used nurse practitioners as their primary care provider, versus 2.9 percent in 2010, according to the release.