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Bill would give APRNs more home healthcare authority

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The American Nurses Association stated that lawmakers should support the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (H.R. 2504).

The bill, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week by Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa.,, allows APRNs to sign home health plans of care and certify Medicare patients for the home health benefit.

Medicare has recognized the independent practice of APRNs for nearly two decades, and these healthcare professionals provide the majority of skilled care to home health patients, according to the ANA. However, a quirk in Medicare law has kept APRNs from signing home health plans of care and from certifying Medicare patients for home health benefits.

These delays in access to home health services inconvenience patients and their families and can result in increased cost to the Medicare system when patients are unnecessarily left in more expensive institutional settings, the ANA stated. H.R. 2504 addresses these problems by specifically allowing APRNs and physician assistants to certify home health services.

“This legislation will help improve access to care,” ANA President Karen A. Daley, RN, PhD, FAAN, said in a news release. “APRNs are a vital source of primary care, especially in areas where access to physicians is limited. To meet our nation’s growing demand for healthcare services, a healthcare workforce that incorporates the knowledge, abilities and skills of APRNs to their fullest capacities must be put into action.”

Walden said providing APRNs the authority outlined in the bill will reduce unnecessary and duplicative burdens on healthcare providers and patients in need of home health services.

Learn more about the bill: http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/2504.

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