caregiver touching hand of wheelchair-bound older adult

Seventy-six medical associations have expressed their opposition to pending legislation that would expand nonphysician practitioners’ scope of practice, including in nursing homes.

The Improving Care and Access to Nurses Act, introduced in September by Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), “would broaden the authority of nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, certified registered nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists and physician assistants while narrowing or removing supervisory requirements,” the American Academy of Family Physicians said last week in a press release. “For example, NPs, CRNAs, nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists would be allowed to order and supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation as well as perform all mandatory examinations in skilled nursing facilities.”

More than 200,000 advanced practice clinical nurses are treating Medicare patients, and approximately 40% of Medicare beneficiaries are receiving care from APRNs, according to Nursing World.

“We are deeply concerned that this broad, sweeping bill endangers the care of Medicare and Medicaid patients by expanding the types of services NPPs can perform and removing physician involvement in patient care,” AAFP and 75 other signatories wrote in a Nov. 2 letter to leaders of the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees. 

At least one nursing association, however, is on board with the proposed legislation.

“Modern healthcare requires flexibility. We cannot be hindered by antiquated barriers to practice or petty turf wars over perceived hierarchies,” American Nurses Association President Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, said in a statement. “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.”