[LEGISLATIVE ACTION] APRNs & Durable Medical Equipment

ImageWe did it once, but now we need to make it permanent. Last year, we celebrated postponing the enforcement of the required physician’s signature for APRNs to order durable medical equipment (DME).

Here’s the catch.

It was a postponement without a firm date. So, at some point in 2014, APRNs will no longer be able to order DME without a physician’s signature. The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services delay was a step in the right direction, but now we need a new plan.

That’s where H.R. 3833 comes in.

Congressman  (D-WA) just introduced legislation to eliminate the physician required signature for ordering DME. His bill would remedy the current DME face-to-face requirement and allow providers, such as APRNs, to document that the face-to-face encounter was completed.

Your member of Congress needs to hear from you. Contact your Representative now and urge them to co-sponsor this legislation and allow APRNs to do their job!



[LEGISLATIVE UPDATE] Nurses Take Their Voices to the Hill

This past week as the Supreme Court listened to oral arguments from both sides of the issues on the fate of the Affordable Care Act, a grassroots group of nurses visited with more than 85 members of the House of Representatives to seek support for HR 3679: National Nurse Act of 2011.

The Bill is sponsored by Eddie Bernice Johnson, a congresswoman from Texas and first nurse elected to the House of Representatives, and Peter King, a congressman from New York. The Bill has bipartisan support currently, but we are working to gain more in order to have the Bill moved to the House floor. We are also working on companion legislation for the Senate, which is part of the legislative process to have a Bill passed and signed into law.
In case you are not familiar with the bill, here is a link. In short, this is a simple bill that elevates the Chief Nurse Officer position of the U.S. Public Health Services from part time to full time status and renames the position to be known as the National Nurse for Public Health; one goal is to raise visibility in order to promote wellness and emphasize disease prevention. In case you are not familiar with the current role of the Chief Nurse, here is a link to learn more.
Each Representative’s office we visited found the bill something that they would be willing to support, but wanted to hear from their constituents (nurses, case managers, disease managers and others) that they supported the bill. We were told over and over again, most decisions to support bills are made when Representatives hear from citizens in their districts. As a result, I am reaching out to you to be part of this grassroots effort by reviewing the bill and taking action by writing to your member of Congress and show your support. The National Nurse website has all the materials you need to locate your member of Congress and a sample letter you can use to show your support.
ImageThis Bill should be welcome news for each case manager and others who work in care coordination across the care continuum, as the goal of the bill would provide support for what each of you do every day in coordinating care, educating and empowering consumers to understand the importance of improving their health and healthcare in order to prevent chronic conditions or better manage chronic conditions in order to prevent avoidable exacerbation and readmission, thus improving their quality of life and lowering escalating healthcare costs.

We won’t know the fate of how the Supreme Court Judges will rule on the Affordable Care Act until late June. Yet regardless of their decisions, the health industry, both payers and providers, are moving forward with implementing new models of care that are transforming the healthcare landscape because we have to find ways to ensure access, improve the quality of care and contain the cost of healthcare in every sector of the system. House Bill HR 3679: National Nurse Act of 2011 is one of the tools that can support these efforts.

[LEGISLATIVE UPDATE] National Nurse Initiative Gains Steam on Capitol Hill

Today, with the focus on prevention, education, consumer empowerment and engagement as the keys to containing escalating healthcare costs, all eyes are turning to nurses. Why, you ask? Because nurses are the most trusted and largest segment of the healthcare workforce, numbering 3.1 million registered nurses throughout the United States.Image

Currently, there is a growing grassroots effort that will provide leadership and strengthen efforts by nurses in every community to assist in the nationwide paradigm shift to prevention and wellness, which will empower consumers to be active in their care and contain escalating healthcare costs. The National Nurse for Public Health is being spearheaded by The National Nursing Network Organization, a volunteer advocacy group whose members have worked since 2006 to spread the word on the effort and gain support from consumers, healthcare professionals, national organizations and members of Congress.
Last week, I joined a dynamic group of nurses in Washington, D.C., to visit members of the U.S. House of Representative and U.S. Senate to raise awareness and support for H.R.485 the National Nurse Act of 2013. As a team, we visited 75 legislative aides to explain the bill, ask for support and answer questions. The reception was positive and we are hoping to add to the growing number of supporters who have signed on for this important effort.
The Bill has four main components:
  • The bill designates the Chief Nurse Officer position in the United States Public Health Services to be uniquely known as the National Nurse for Public Health. Doing so will make the Chief Nurse a recognizable leader in health promotion and disease prevention, elevate nursing’s influence and prominence, better utilize the expertise of nurses, and serve a vital function in our current climate of health care reform.
  • The bill increases the current Chief Nurse Office position of the United States Public Health Service from part time to full time.
  • The bill ranks the position in parity with the uniformed Chief Nurse Officers who serve on the Federal Nurse Council (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Veterans Administration). Currently the Chief Nurse Office is not the same grade.
  • The bill calls for the Chief Nurse Office of the United States Public Health Services/ National Nurse for Public Health to engage willing nurses, retirees, students, and other health professionals to participate in and replicate successful health promotion programs.
This is the ideal time to make a National Nurse for Public Health a reality. As nurses, case managers and other members of the care coordination team know the numbers of preventable illnesses and chronic diseases with their high rates of complications and exacerbations are costing taxpayers billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid expenses. Without more efforts on prevention, these costs will continue to soar at alarming rates. Nurses, who historically have answered the call to respond when needed to avert health crises, are willing to become active advocates for prevention in their local communities. They understand that prevention is cost effective, reduces suffering, and can be implemented when society is determined to make needed changes.
This legislation is aligned with the mission of the Office of the Surgeon General, “promoting, protecting, and advancing the nation’s health” and the National Prevention Strategy.  HR 485 has strong bipartisan support in Congress and has been endorsed by more than 110 national, state and regional organizations, as well as prominent individuals. Four state legislatures have overwhelmingly passed resolutions urging Congress to pass this legislation.
It should be known that there is no duplication of services or cost involved in this Bill. It is simply making the existing position of the Chief Nurse full time and visible. This point is critical for both Democrats and Republicans  in the House and Senate as there is no tolerance for any bills that may be perceived as duplicative or have cost associated with them.

Nurses make key contributions on behalf of the nation’s health each and every day. I ask that you support HR 485 The National Nurse Act of 2013 because it is of critical importance to make sure the voice of nursing continues at the federal policy table, as well as the public arena, especially in our local communities, to help combat the epidemic of chronic preventable conditions that are sweeping our country. Take time today to visit the National Nurse Network websites to gain a better understanding of the Bill and access the tools that will help you be part of this dynamic grassroots movement