Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (Mil Con- VA) and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which included ASA-supported language addressing the proposed Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Nursing Handbook. The report included language nearly identical to the bill that passed in the House of Representatives earlier this month encouraging the VA to engage both external and internal stakeholders in the development of the Nursing Handbook and requesting 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. This VHA Nursing Handbook report language is due to ASA’s advocacy efforts in Congress, including many productive meetings on Capitol Hill during the ASA’s 2014 Legislative Conference.
The report language reads:
Nursing Handbook.-The Committee understands that the VHA Nursing Handbook is currently under review. The Committee encourages 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. The Committee also 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.
For the Senate report language to advance, it must still face a vote in the U.S. Senate.