Once again, ANA’s Annual Lobby Day provided a space for RNs to come together and speak with one collective voice on issues vital to the nursing profession and patient care. June 27, Capitol Hill was inundated with more than 200 nurses in Washington DC and more than 1,000 participating virtually, speaking to their elected representatives about ANA-supported legislation on Safe Staffing (H.R. 1821), Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (H.R. 2480) and Home Health (H.R. 2504).
In November 2012, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) released its Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule, which included the durable medical equipment (DME) face-to-face encounters rule. Under the new rule for ordering DME; a physician must document that the physician, or a nurse practitioner (NP), a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), or a physician assistant (PA), has had a face-to-face encounter. The encounter with the beneficiary must occur within 6 months before delivery of DME. Beginning with orders for durable medical equipment made on or after October 1, 2013, a physician will have to sign that the face-to-face encounter was completed. Click here for a detailed explanation of the requirements of the rule and a complete list of items.
On the last day Congress was in session before their August work break, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) introduced the Protecting Access to Primary Care Act, H.R. 2986. The bill seeks to improve access to primary care for individuals enrolled in Medicaid. The bill will improve reimbursement rates for nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other primary health care providers. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) presently provides improved reimbursement rates for physicians, but does not similarly increase reimbursement rates for other primary care providers like nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
We’ve all read the stories, Congress is in gridlock. Which, for the most part is true and while most of this past year has been dominated by spending cuts and sequestration, Congress has seen the introduction of two bills aimed at addressing nurse and patient safety issues in the primary care setting.
The Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) passed Congress in 1997 is a formula used to reduce Medicare spending on providers and keeps Medicare spending in check. It has become a political can that congressional members just kick down the road. Since the law was enacted in 1997, Congress has passed short term fixes that keep the SGR from going into full effect. However, July 31st was a good day for physicians and other providers that bill Medicare. The unanimous approval by the House Energy and Commerce Committee of the Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act, H.R. 2810, was a step towards improving the health care environment and a final solution to the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.
This summer was eventful for introduction of ANA supported bills. On June 26, 2013, Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR) and Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), along with 12 republican and 10 democrat co-sponsors, reintroduced the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2013, H.R. 2504. Additionally on July 22, 2013, Senators Susan Collins and Chuck Schumer introduced a Senate companion bill with similar language to its House counterpart, the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act, S 1332.