July 01, 2016
VA Re-emphasizes Team-based Anesthesia in Senate; AANA Holds Press Conference
This week, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on several bills, including S. 2279, the Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act. This ASA-opposed legislation includes provisions advancing "full practice authority" for all advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and “all licensed health care professionals" in the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).
During the hearing, Dr. Maureen McCarthy, assistant deputy under secretary for health for patient care services at the Veterans Health Administration, reiterated previous statements by VA that the agency intended to maintain physician-led anesthesia care, stating: “In the VA, nurse anesthetists work closely with anesthesiologists and our model of care is team-based care. Teams define a lot of what we do. If you look across our system, we do have access challenges in primary care, metal health, specialties care and so forth, but we have not identified significant shortages of anesthesiologists, for instance. So, at this point the proposed rule-making is all inclusive with the idea that we wouldn’t necessarily implement all the changes in the rule-making until it’s clear what is needed. So, we would have flexibility.”
This statement came after Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) emphasized the need to ensure Veterans receive the best possible care, and questioned whether there was an access issue in the area of anesthesia. ASA is grateful for Senator Tillis’ leadership, and the support for physician-led anesthesia care for Veterans by many others on the committee, including Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA). ASA will continue to advocate that anesthesia be excluded from the proposed rule as it advances to the final stage.
Also, this week the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, held a press conference which resulted in a MedPage Today article.
Meanwhile, ASA was pleased with several new Op-ed and Letter to the Editor placements around the country, including Michigan, Ohio, California, Georgia and Pennsylvania. All ASA members are encouraged to continue to generate support for protecting Veterans’ access to safe anesthesia by soliciting comments at www.SafeVACare.org, consider submitting a Letter to the Editor for their newspaper, or outreach to the community and local Veterans organizations about this patient safety issue.