Thank you to each and every member who commented on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposed rule “Advanced Practice Registered Nurses” during the 60 day comment period that closed last night. Due to your outstanding advocacy, an estimated two-thirds of the more than 165,000 comments submitted to the Federal Register (as of 7/26) were in support of maintaining physician-led anesthesia care in VA. This will send a strong message to VA that our Veterans deserve the best quality care.
While we are still continuing to review the comments and participation records, one thing is clear: ASA members have reached a record level of advocacy for patient safety. With the support of medical organizations, Veterans’ organizations, and a bipartisan group of members of Congress, our efforts have made a tremendous impact on this policy proposal. VA’s proposed policy attracted an unprecedented outpouring from the public, a record for VA-related issues as well as a record for the most comments posted to the Federal Register in 2016.
This comment period has showed that Americans understand that it would be wrong to lower the standard of care provided to these men and women who have bravely served our country. We expect the VA will listen to the comments of Veterans, their families and the American public who care about the quality of health care in the VA system and abandon this dangerous proposal that runs counter to the VA’s own strategy to deliver high-quality, Veteran-centered care.
It will take some time to thoroughly review the comments submitted, but so far we can estimate that:
• Nearly two thirds of the comments on Regulations.gov were opposed to VA’s proposed anesthesia policy change
• 90 percent of the comments collected from Veterans were concerned about patient safety implications of the proposal
• Our message for #SafeVACare made an impact of 12,890,000 in social media networks
• At least 30 ASA Committees reached 100 percent participation, with many expanding their advocacy beyond the 1+5 Plan
• The media reported on the issue using ASA key messages in 376 placements reaching an audience of more than 285 million, which includes 58 letters to the editor and opinion pieces written by ASA members and supporters
We know that this tremendous effort has been a group achievement, and that many of our colleagues have put in countless hours ensuring our patient safety concerns were heard. To each of you, we thank you, on behalf of our nation’s Veterans. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed, and we applaud your commitment to the specialty and our patients. We know this effort is not over, and while we wait for VA to review the comments as they write the Final Rule, we urge each of you to stay active on the many advocacy efforts of ASA.
Thank you again for your participation in our highly successfully advocacy for our nation’s Veterans.
Dan Cole, M.D.
Chair, ASA Safe VA Care Initiative