Congress had a rough year in 2013 with debt ceiling talks, sequestration, and ultimately a government shutdown. Luckily for us, Congress was friendlier to nursing issues than to each other. With the beginning of 2014 upon us, the ANA Government Affairs team wanted to take a minute and let you know how far we have come in the first half of the 113th Congress and how we can go even further, with your help. Here are updates on our top legislative items:
As the Holidays approached Congressional Budget Leaders, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), hammered out an agreement that would create a two year Congressional budget and limit the impact of the sequester hits for fiscal year (FY) 2014.
The final agreement H. J. Res 59, H.J. Res. 59, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA) was approved by both Houses of Congress and signed by President Obama on December 26, 2013. The passage of the BBA led to congressional appropriators being able to appropriate funds for all twelve agencies of the federal government in an Omnibus and finally close out FY 2014 .
On January 9th, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), the Ranking Member on the Ways & Means Health Subcommittee, introduced legislation to eliminate the physician signature for ordering durable medical equipment (DME). HR 3833 would essentially remedy the DME face-to-face problem by requiring the provider that the face-to-face to document that it was completed.
In addition to ANA’s major legislative initiatives, Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act, Safe Staffing, and Safe Patient Handling and Movement; we tracked a few provisions that impact nurses in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA, H.R. 3304, was signed into law on December 26th by President Obama after it passed the Senate by a vote of 84-15 and a voice vote in the House of Representatives.
Many of you watched as ANA and ANA/California filed suit against the California Department of Education for asking non nurses to administer insulin to students in the absence of a school nurse. While the CA Lower court’s decision affirmed a belief that students are entitled access to a school nurse and administration of insulin is much more than the just the task of giving an injection, the final decision rendered by the Supreme Court was disappointing. The final ruling overturned the lower court’s decision and was largely predicated by a section of CA statute that stipulates, physicians may delegate nursing functions without violating the Nurse Practice Act. And now we are seeing other states introduce bills that permit trained school staff and volunteers to provide diabetes care in the absence of a school nurse.
On Thursday, January 23, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and HRSA Administrator Dr. Mary Wakefield held a call for nurses around the country to discuss the important work nurses are doing around ACA Health Insurance Marketplace (HIM) outreach and enrollment.