Nurses’ Duties to be Expanded by House

A bill was approved by the U.S. House March 26 will modify the Medicare payment process to offer bonuses for high quality, effectiveness and innovation, and would contain selected registered nurses within the reward payment program. The bill would also include specific nurses under health care provider eligibility conditions for prescription instructions of durable medical devices for Medicare individuals.

The recommended brand new reward payment program, the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, will comprise of services offered by advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) — nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and certified registered nurse anesthetists. The payment package will take the place of the “Sustainable Growth Rate” (SGR) payment method that is supposed to regulate Medicare spending by tying doctor payment adjustments to measures of general economic growth. Nurses are instantly impacted by the SGR: Close to 40 % of Medicare Part B health care providers are APRNs, that are rewarded a part of Medicare’s medical doctor repayment for services provided.

Pamela F. Cipriano, President of ANA, stated that she was pleased to see Congress recognized the knowledge, ability and credentials of APRNs to improve services to Medicare patients. She went on to say that, APRNs should be compensated for achieving incentives, saving money and generally making Medicare more efficient.

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2) will increase the number of health care providers authorized to write-up the in person encounter with Medicare individuals needed to provide a prescription for durable health-related devices. The suggested modification would enable nurse practitioners and physician assistants to be eligible for the face-to-face meeting to confirm the order of devices, as permitted by state regulations. This fix would increase access to health services and permit a number of Medicare recipients to obtain required devices much faster.

The bill also gives a two-year financial backing extension for:

  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which takes care of over 8 million children and expecting mothers in families that generate earnings above Medicaid eligibility amounts.
  • The approximately 1,300 federally funded city and remote Community Health Centers (CHC) and National Health Service Corps Fund (NHSC) and Teaching Health Centers, whose main objective is offering primary treatment.

ANA will carry on working together with various other nursing and health care consumer groups and with their grassroots system of nurses to suggest passing of the bill in the Senate.

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