Joyce, Roybal-Allard Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Access to Nurses

Sep 13, 2022
Health Care
Press

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) joined Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) in introducing the Increasing Access to Nurses (I CAN) Act. This bipartisan legislation aims to increase healthcare access, improve quality of care, and lower costs by removing remaining barriers in the Medicare and Medicaid programs that prevent Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) from practicing the full scope of their education and clinical training. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Adrian Smith (NE-3), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) and Rodney Davis (IL-13) joined this bipartisan effort as original cosponsors.

“As our country grapples with a healthcare workforce shortage, we cannot afford to undervalue the essential contributions our nurses make,” said Congressman Joyce, Co-Chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus. “The COVID-19 pandemic proved that when nurses are allowed to practice to the fullest extent of their education and training, access to care increases and patient choice is strengthened. Our laws should reflect this reality. That’s why I joined Congresswoman Roybal-Allard in introducing the Improving Care and Access to Nurses Act. By reforming outdated barriers that prevent Advanced Practice Registered Nurses from providing care, our bipartisan bill delivers a meaningful solution that will help bridge healthcare access gaps in Ohio and around the country.”

“Removing federal barriers to nursing practice was a priority for my father, the late Congressman Edward Roybal, throughout his 30-year career in Congress. He understood that allowing APRNs to practice to the full scope of their education and licensure was critical to reducing health disparities in this country,” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, Vice-Chair of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee. “I am so very proud to be continuing his legacy today by introducing the I CAN Act.  This legislation will increase health care access, improve quality of care, and lower costs in the Medicare and Medicaid programs by removing archaic and unnecessary barriers to practice for APRNs, consistent with the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences.”  

“Nurses play a critical role in our health care delivery system, often by serving as the primary source of care in many communities. This is especially true of APRNs who were able to practice at the top of their license during the height of the pandemic, due to waivers granted by Federal and state governments, and in doing so provided access to high-quality care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients alike,” said ANA President Dr. Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Modern health care requires flexibility. We cannot be hindered by antiquated barriers to practice or petty turf wars over perceived hierarchies. The health of our patients and communities must come first. The I CAN Act means that APRNs, including nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and clinical nurse specialists will be able to care for their patients at the fullest extent of their abilities while experiencing fewer disruptions and less interference.”

APRNs are nurses prepared at the master or doctoral level to provide primary, acute, chronic and specialty care to patients of all ages and backgrounds, and in all settings. Their qualifications enable them to treat and diagnose illnesses, advise the public on health issues, manage chronic disease, order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe medication, and direct non-pharmacologic treatments for their patients. Over 40 years of vigorous, peer reviewed research has verified the safety, quality, satisfaction and cost-effectiveness of APRN care. This has led the National Academy of Sciences to call for the removal of laws, regulations, and policies that prevent APRNs from providing the full scope of health care services they are educated and trained to provide. 

Currently, several federal statutes and regulations, as well as state practice acts and institutional rules, require unnecessary physician oversight and limit APRN practice. These barriers reduce access to care, create disruptions in care, increase the cost of care, and undermine efforts to improve the quality of care. Specifically, the I CAN Act would remove remaining barriers in the Medicare and Medicaid programs that prevent APRNs from practicing to the full extent of their education and clinical training. Importantly, this bill does not expand scope of practice. It simply enables APRNs to practice to the extent of their existing state scope of practice. Removing these unnecessary barriers will help patients obtain treatment when they need it the most and reduce the need for higher cost healthcare.  

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