November 11, 2015
Senate Passes MilCon-VA Appropriations Bill with ASA-Supported VHA Nursing Handbook Language
On Tuesday, November 10, the Senate passed H.R.2029,the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2016 on a vote of 93-0. Passed with bipartisan support one day before the Veterans Day holiday, this bill includes report language addressing the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Nursing Handbook.
Similar to legislation passed in the Fiscal Year 2015 funding legislation, this bill includes language encouraging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to engage both external and internal stakeholders in the development of the proposed VHA Nursing Handbook, which would eliminate physician-led anesthesia within VHA facilities. Key language also requests that 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 that directs team-based, physician-led anesthesia care.
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.
This spending measure has now passed both the House of Representatives and Senate, and it will likely be reconsidered as part of the negotiation process for a larger overall spending bill.
ASA will continue to advocate for inclusion of this ASA-supported report language in the final Fiscal Year 2016 funding legislation.