On April 30, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4486, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (Mil Con- VA) and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. This bill, which passed out of the full House Appropriations Committee earlier in April with unanimous bipartisan support, includes report language addressing the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Nursing Handbook.
Due to ASA’s advocacy efforts in the House, the Mil Con-VA bill included language that encourages the VA to engage both external and internal stakeholders in the development of the Nursing Handbook. Key language also requests that the VA work to ensure that the Handbook does not conflict with handbooks “already in place within the VHA” - a reference to the current Anesthesia Service Handbook.
The report language reads -
Nursing handbook. -- The Committee understands that the VHA Nursing Handbook is currently under review. The Committee encourages that the VHA to seek input from internal VA program offices and external professional stakeholders, prior to possible regulatory action and submission to the Under Secretary for Health for final approval. The Committee believes all possible outreach efforts should be used to communicate the proposed changes, to gather public comment, and to collaborate with Congress, stakeholders, VA nursing staff, and external organizations. Finally, the Committee requests that the VHA ensure that any changes to handbooks within the VHA do not conflict with other handbooks already in place within the VHA.
The bill passed with a strong bipartisan majority in the full House of Representatives. The next legislative step is Senate consideration of its version of the Mil Con-VA Appropriations bill. ASA supports the inclusion of the House language in the Senate’s version of the bill.