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AACN's Washington Weekly

Published January 29, 2020

AACN Comments on CMS Request for Feedback on Scope of Practice

On January 17, AACN submitted comments in response to a request by the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding the President’s Executive Order (EO) #13890, Protecting and Improving Medicare for Our Nation’s Seniors, which affects APRN scope of practice. This effort is driven by the CMS initiative “Patients over Paperwork” to streamline federal regulations and “cut the red tape.” The request for input specifically addressed Section 5 of the EO, Enabling Providers to Spend More Time with Patients, which directed changes to eliminate burdensome supervision and licensure requirements of the Medicare program that are more stringent than other applicable federal or state laws.

In these comments, AACN urged CMS to take additional steps to reduce unnecessary burdens, increase access to affordable and high-quality care, and eliminate regulations impeding scope of practice of highly qualified clinicians. Specifically, AACN recommended removing barriers for NPs in home health care and end-of-life care; removing barriers to care for Medicare constituents; correcting provider attestation; removing “incident to” billing; and adopting provider-neutral language. Read AACN’s comments here.

Notice of Funding Opportunity: 2020 Nurse Anesthetist Traineeships Program

The Nurse Anesthetist Traineeships (NAT) program allows eligible institutions to grant funding to cover the cost of anesthesia programs for students with the goal of increasing the number of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) in underserved communities. Schools of nursing, nursing centers, academic health centers, state or local governments, and other public or private nonprofit entities are eligible to apply. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is accepting applications for the NAT program through March 6. HRSA estimates that it will distribute $2.25 million in fiscal year 2020 and fund 80 awards. Apply now.

GAO Releases Report on Barriers to Opioid Use Disorder Treatments

Nearly 70,000 people lost their lives to drug overdoses in 2018, of which 69% were opioid overdoses, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Because Medicaid is one of the largest providers of insurance coverage for patients undergoing treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD), Congress directed the GAO to review barriers to Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). In Opioid Use Disorder: Barriers to Medicaid Beneficiaries' Access to Treatment Medications, the GAO reports that some state laws restrict the ability of nurse practitioners and physician assistants (who are permanently authorized to obtain the waiver required to prescribe buprenorphine) to treat OUD. For NPs, most states require supervision by or a collaborative agreement with a physician, which can affect patients’ access to MAT. GAO recommends that CMS determine the extent to which states are in compliance with federal requirements to cover MAT medications and take appropriate action, and HHS concurred with this recommendation. Read the report here.

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