March 09, 2015
New House "Independent" Practice Legislation for VA Includes Nurse Anesthetists
Last week, Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO-06) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09) introduced legislation that would allow the “independent” practice of certain Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Although similar to a Senate bill introduced by Senator Mark Kirk, the Frontlines to Lifelines Act, the House bill, unfortunately, includes the independent practice of nurse anesthetists.
H.R. 1247, the Improving Veterans Access to Quality Care Act, is principally designed to “revive and expand the Intermediate Care Technician Pilot Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs,” but also includes the troubling “independent” practice provision. ASA is disappointed that this legislation is not in line with the growing bipartisan, bicameral Congressional consensus that the surgical/anesthesia setting is a high-risk health care environment requiring physician involvement in care. Several VSOs and medical organizations agree that Veterans should have access to physician-led surgical anesthesia. Veterans have earned and deserve the highest quality health care.
More information about the Improving Veterans Access to Quality Care Act is available here. H.R. 1247 has been referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the House Committee on Armed Services.
This legislation has just been introduced and its timeline remains unclear. ASA is continuing to monitor this legislation, and will provide updates as they become available. Please note that ASA still expects VA to move forward with their plans to publish in the Federal Register a proposed VHA Nursing Handbook which will include independent practice of APRNs.