October 06, 2016
Congress Passes Funding Bill, Including Language Addressing APRN Rule
On Wednesday, September 28, Congress reached a bipartisan agreement on funding legislation to avoid a government shutdown beyond September 30. The bill provides funding at the current rate of operations through December 9, 2016, and includes the full Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill, including report language addressing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Advanced Practice Registered Nurses proposed rule.
Specifically, the report language states that:
“Nursing authority.—The conferees recognize that VA has recently published a proposed rule indicating that it is considering the issue of granting full practice authority to some or all of the four advanced practice nursing disciplines. The proposed rule indicates that decision will be reflected in the final rule, after consideration of all the public comments received. In addition, the Under Secretary for Health has testified that he plans to consider as an important variable whether there are significant shortages of the affiliated physician specialties throughout the VA system, which would validate the need for full practice authority for those advanced practice nurse specialties. The conferees urge VA to carefully and thoughtfully seek additional input from internal and external stakeholders prior to publishing the final rule. The conferees encourage VA to make all possible outreach efforts to communicate the changes contained in the proposed rule, gather public comments, and collaborate with Congress, affected stakeholders, VA physician and nursing staffs, and external organizations.”
This is the third year that ASA has secured language in funding legislation addressing VA’s proposal, specifically requesting VA seek input from external stakeholders including VA physician staff and external organizations. However, this is first year the language has introduced the idea of VA moving forward with full practice authority for “some” of the “advanced practice nursing disciplines.” Further, the language highlights Congress’ focus on whether there “are significant shortages of affiliated physician specialties” to “validate the need for full practice authority...” There is no shortage of physician anesthesiologists in VA.
Other provisions in the bill include $1.1 billion in emergency funding to fight and prevent the spread of the Zika virus, $500 million in grants to help states recover from natural disasters and $37 million to help address the nation’s growing opioid abuse epidemic. The bill passed in the Senate 72-26 and in the House 342-85.
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