Shot of a nurse speaking to her male patient
(Credit: PeopleImages / Getty Images)

Two national aging services organizations have co-signed a letter supporting a bill that aims to “eliminate outdated barriers” that currently restrict care by advanced practice registered nurses.

LeadingAge and the American Health Care Association joined 235 organizations across the country in support of the Improving Care and Access to Nurses (I CAN) Act, which seeks to increase access to services provided by APRNs under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

AHCA’s sister organization, the National Center for Assisted Living, did not sign the letter, but an AHCA spokeswoman told McKnight’s Senior Living on Wednesday: “Advanced practice registered nurses are a valued part of the collaborative care team in assisted living communities and help support high-quality care for residents. During this historic labor shortage, legislation like this will help build a stronger workforce for all long-term care settings.”

The bill would allow nurse practitioners to deliver certain services under the federal healthcare programs. They include fulfilling documentation requirements for Medicare coverage of special shoes for diabetic individuals and certifying the need for inpatient hospital services under Medicare and Medicaid. The measure also would expedite the ability of nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists to supervise Medicare cardiac, intensive cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs.

In a letter to House leaders of the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees, the supporting organizations said the bill would “increase patient access to care by removing outdated and unnecessary federal barriers on services provided by advanced practice registered nurses under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.”

The I CAN Act supporting organizations said various federal statutes and regulations now in place prevent APRNs from practicing to the full extent of their clinical training. Those policies reduce access to care, disrupt continuity of care, increase healthcare costs and undermine quality improvement efforts, according to the letter.

More than 235,000 APRNs treated Medicare patients, and more 40% of Medicare beneficiaries received care from an APRN, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In 2010, the Institute of Medicine issued a report calling for the removal of laws, regulations and policies that prevent APRNs from providing the full scope of healthcare services they are trained to provide. That position was reaffirmed by the National Academy of Medicine in 2021.