National nursing organizations are heralding enactment of a Medicare reform law that eliminates the risk of cuts to federal payment to nurses and other health care providers, and removes barriers to nurse-led care.
“The provisions affecting nursing in this bill recognize that nurses provide high-quality, efficient, and cost-effective services that are valued and needed by Medicare patients, many of whom rely on advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) for their primary care needs,” Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association, said in a statement.
Other nursing organizations, including the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists also praised the bill, which was signed into law on April 16.
The Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act repeals a payment formula that was enacted nearly two decades ago to control Medicare spending. The formula, known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), limited reimbursements to Medicare providers, including nurses, which forced Congress to intervene on numerous occasions to block payment reductions to providers.
The act creates a new “merit-based” payment formula that will eliminate the risk of cuts to health care providers and treat care provided by APRNs and physicians equally. It also includes provisions that would allow APRNs to take on and be paid for new responsibilities, including the documentation of face-to-face evaluations for durable medical equipment and for chronic disease management at APRN-led medical homes.
In addition to reauthorizing the federal insurance program for children, the law provides new funding for the National Health Service Corps Fund; federally funded Community Health Centers; and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting programs, which funds the Nurse-Family Partnership.
The nursing provisions will “improve consumers’ access to care by increasing the numbers of APRNs and removing barriers to APRN-provided care,” said Winifred Quinn, PhD, director of advocacy and consumer affairs at the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that is coordinating the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. Additional funding for the National Health Service Corps, Quinn added, “will help produce many new APRNs who will provide critically needed primary care in rural and underserved areas around the country.”