The White House yesterday released a report entitled “Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition” that describes the influence of state and federal laws, regulations, guidance, and policies on choice and competition in health care markets and identifies actions that states or the federal government could take to develop a better functioning health care market.
This report bears great news for RNs and APRNs. It recognizes and promotes the role that RNs and APRNs play in patient care and recommends that the federal government and state governments should allow RNs and APRNs (and other allied health professionals) to practice to the full extent of their education and training. The report makes the following recommendations regarding scope of practice:
- States should consider changes to their scope-of-practice statutes to allow all healthcare providers to practice to the top of their licenses, utilizing their full skill sets.
- The federal government and states should consider accompanying legislative and administrative proposals to allow non-physician and non-dentist providers to be paid directly for their services where evidence supports that the provider can safely and effectively provide that care.
- States should consider eliminating requirements for rigid collaborative practice and supervision agreements between physicians and dentists and their care extenders (e.g., APRNs, physician assistants, hygienists) that are not justified by legitimate health and safety concerns.
The report also promotes the use of telehealth services, noting that, “telehealth has great potential to improve access in underserved locations, reduce costs, and generate improved short- and long-term health outcomes.” The report makes several recommendations regarding telehealth:
- States should consider adopting licensure compacts or model laws that improve license portability by allowing healthcare providers to more easily practice in multiple states, thereby creating additional opportunities for telehealth practice.
- States and the federal government should explore legislative and administrative proposals modifying reimbursement policies that prohibit or impede alternatives to in-person services, including covering telehealth services when they are an appropriate form of care delivery.
- States generally should consider allowing individual healthcare providers and payers to mutually determine whether and when it is safe and appropriate to provide telehealth services, including when there has not been a prior in-person visit.
- Congress and other policymakers should increase opportunities for license portability through policies that maintain accountability and disciplinary mechanisms, including permitting licensed professionals to provide telehealth service to out-of-state patients.
ANA’s comments to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) expressed our support to expand telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries, especially in areas in which RNs and APRNs provide care, and ANA encourages the administration to continue to consider the role that RNs and APRNs – able to practice to the full extent of their education and training – play in providing primary care, telehealth, and other health care services to increase access to beneficiaries, also recognizing that reimbursement is necessary to not only provide the services, but to also fill the void in certain specialties and geographies.
ANA applauds the White House for recognizing through this report the crucial role that RNs and APRNs play in the U.S. health care system and for promoting innovative telehealth strategies that will better allow them to practice to the full extent of their education and training. ANA also commends the administration’s recent expansion – through the CY 2019 Medicare Part B Physician Fee Schedule final rule – of telehealth services for prolonged preventive health services and for purposes of treatment of a substance use disorder or a co-occurring mental health disorder. These common-sense strategies will allow RNs and APRNs to maximize their significant contributions to quality patient care and outcomes.