December 17, 2014
Senate Joins House in Passing Government Funding Bill, Including ASA-Supported Language
Update: On December 16, President Barack Obama signed this legislation into law.
Late at night on December 13, the U.S. Senate voted to pass a $1.1 trillion bill to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. This legislation includes several provisions that impact ASA members, including ASA-supported language addressing the proposed VHA Nursing Handbook, which could remove physician-led anesthesia care within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). ASA is pleased to see continued Congressional support for language addressing the Handbook. It is expected that VA will move forward with their plans to place their VHA Nursing Handbook into the Federal Register.
The Senate-passed bill, referred to as "Cromnibus," funds most government agencies through September 2015. It narrowly passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on December 10, and now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The VHA Nursing Handbook language calls for greater stakeholder input from organizations such as ASA and requests that any new handbooks “do not conflict with other handbooks already in place within the VHA,” a direct reference to the consensus Anesthesia Service Handbook.
Specifically, 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.
The Cromnibus funding bill also included provisions related to reduced funding for the Independent Payment Advisory Board, provider nondiscrimination, and opioid overdoses, among others.
You can view how your Senator voted on this legislation here: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=113&session=2&vote=00354