ANA Advises Federal Agencies

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ANA Government Affairs staff review and analyze federal agency decisions, regulations, and rules affecting registered nurses, our profession, our patients, and the public health. The Administrative Procedures Act requires Executive Branch departments and agencies to publish these in the Federal Register, allow an opportunity for public comments, and take those into account when issuing a final rule or regulation. Once final, rules and regulations become part of the Code of Federal Regulations. Notices of public meetings and requests for nominees to federal panels are also published in the Federal Register.

ANA often provides feedback to federal policymakers through written comments. These are often collaborative efforts both within ANA and with our Constituent/State Nursing Associations, organizational affiliates, and other nursing and healthcare organizations. The Affordable Care Act requires many agencies and departments to implement regulations to carry out its policies. ANA is especially vigilant regarding Health Care Reform, now called "ACA" (short for the full title of the law, the Affordable Care Act) actions that impact nursing, especially those that offer the chance to overcome longstanding barriers to optimal nursing practice.

Resources for Submitting Regulatory Comments & Letters
We encourage ANA members, Constituent/State Nursing Associations, and organizational affiliates to submit comments on agency decisions. Some resources are provided below to help you with that process.

2014 ANA Regulatory Comments

2013 ANA Regulatory Comments

  • Addressed to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding proposed changes in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule: “incident to” billing regulations need to be reformed; complex chronic care management services should be reserved for more complex patients; complex chronic care management services can be provided by APRNs and RNs.

  • ANA focused its MFS comments on telehealth, the Physician Compare website, "incident to" claims, and complex chronic care management services.

  • Incident to claims

    Background

    "Incident to" services, although provided by NPs or CNSs, are billed under the physician's provider number (NPI); therefore the NP or CNS input is essentially invisible.
    If NP or CNS services are billed under a physician's NPI, "incident to" services are reimbursed by Medicare at 100% of the physician rate.
    Medicare pays nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists 85% of the physician rate if a service is billed using the NP's or CNS's own NPI.

    Recommendations

    • ANA concurred with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) that there should be an "incident to" modifier on Part B claims to identify the taxonomy of the performing clinician.

    • ANA proposed eliminating "incident to" billing for APRN services.

    • "When it comes to more complicated services [now being billed incident to], accountability demands that claims...should specifically identify the performing clinician if that person is not the same as the billing clinician."

    • ANA recommended that Congress adopt a national scope of practice for APRNs treating Medicare patients since Medicare is a National Program—not a State program.

    • Recommended that Congress eliminate the 15% pay reduction.

  • Complex chronic care management services (CCCMS)

    • ANA reminded CMS of the important role that APRNs and RNs play in care coordination and transitional care.  The services described in the proposed regulations go far beyond medical care, and include patient counseling and education, explanation of and solicitation of informed medical consent, among other non-traditional and non-clinical services. They also include team building and effecting cooperation and collaboration among team members. These are not skills reserved for physicians only.

    • ANA encouraged CMS to replace all instances in which "physicians" appears alone in the text with the phrase "physicians and other eligible professionals" or simply "eligible professionals" omitting "physicians" as redundant.

    • CMS' proposed rule includes a statement that practices "must employ one or more advanced practical registered nurse or physician assistant." ANA recommends adding "registered nurses" to the proposed rule.

    • ANA recommended that CCCMS plans must address family caregivers, many of whom provide complex medical or nursing tasks.

    • ANA recommended that CCCMS be focused on more complex patients for whom there would be the highest return regarding reduced cost and/or improved patient care.

  • DME Face-to-Face Encounters Rule Letter [pdf]

  • Addressed to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS): Inpatient Prospective Payment system (IPPS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
    The ANA provided comments on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Inpatient Prospective Payment system (IPPS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for fiscal year (FY) 2014 on June 25, 2013. Read the FY 2014 IPPS Proposed Rule Home Page, including the NPRM document. This NPRM included provisions related to multiple areas of direct interest to nursing including the CMS pay for reporting program, the Inpatient quality reporting (IQR) program, and multiple pay for quality programs: 1) Hospital acquired conditions (HACs) reduction program, 2) Readmissions reduction program, 3) Hospital value-based purchasing (VBP) program. Read the ANA comments letter submitted.

  • Addressed to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: APRNs can provide essential health benefits to be offered in Health Insurance Exchanges (July 19, 2013)
    Insurance companies that plan to offer a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) in a State Health Insurance Exchange will need to provide mandated essential health benefits to future subscribers. That means they will have to recruit clinicians of all varieties to provide those services. Unfortunately, many current private health insurers have ignored if not distained inclusion of APRNs in their networks. If that practice carries over to the Exchanges it will exacerbate problems in access to essential health benefits for patients and prospective exchange clients.

    CMS's proposed remedy would allow an Exchange to decertify a QHP for failure to meet what are known as Network Adequacy Standards. ANA proposes an innovative alternative. In particular, a candidate health insurance plan that wants to become a QHP in an Exchange—State or Federal—must demonstrate that it has credentialed a number of APRNs no less than 10% of the number of APRNs recorded as independently billing Medicare Part B in that State. (Using the most recent data available from CMS—2011—plans in Hawaii would have to credential 16 APRNs; Florida plans would need 654.) This approach conveys the importance of providing access to high quality primary care and specialty services provided by APRNs, and prospective qualification will save the Exchanges time and money.

    This is a standard that is easy to understand, easy to police, and easy to meet for those candidate QHPs that are serious about addressing the issue of potential strains on patient access to primary care services. ANA believes the proposed change is worth serious consideration and quick adoption.

  • Addressed to the Institute on Medicine: Comments on Institute on Medicine's study panel to identify core measure set based on the Triple Aim (April 8, 2013)
    Comments on the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) study panel to identify core measure sets based on the Triple Aim of better health, better care, and lower cost, and to assess progress towards these aims. The triple aim was developed by the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and is the cornerstone of the National Quality Strategy (NQS), the nation's guide star for healthcare quality improvement.

  • Addressed to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Medicare Program; Request for Information (April 8, 2013)
    Medicare Program; Request for Information on the Use of Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs) Reported Under the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program, and Other Reporting Programs

2012 ANA Regulatory Comments

  • Addressed to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Comments on A Prototype Consumer Reporting System for Patient Safety Events (September 10, 2012)
    The Administration for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has requested funding to pilot the development of a Consumer Reporting System for Patient Safety Events. This project aims to design and test a system for collecting information from patients about health care safety events following standard definitions and formats. The project cites three goals: 1) To develop and design a prototype system to collect information about patient safety events; 2) To develop and test Web and telephone modes of a prototype questionnaire; and 3) To develop and test protocols for a follow-up survey of health care providers. The ANA recommends that AHRQ complete additional improvement work prior to implementing a pilot project, including additional investment to improve patient use of existing quality-related public reporting systems.

  • Addressed to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Comments on the Proposed Physician Fee Schedule (August 30, 2012)
    The system for paying physicians through Medicare is updated to reflect changes in practice and policy. In many cases in outpatient and even inpatient care, payment systems such as this drive policy, and influence the level of quality in patient care. In its comments, ANA focused on the role of advanced practice registered nurses, particularly with regard to ordering certain practices, care coordination, telehealth, and quality initiatives.

  • Addressed to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Comments on the Proposed Inpatient Prospective Payment System (June 24, 2012)
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) solicited comments on the proposed rule for federal fiscal year (FY) 2013 changes to Medicare's acute care hospital inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) and long-term care hospital (LTCH) prospective payment system. In its comments, ANA discussed the need for important and effective patient-centric team based measures (e.g., safety) and a critique of the proposed quality measures chosen by CMS. ANA provided an evidence table describing associations between ANA staffing measures and patient outcomes.

  • Addressed to the Department of Health and Human Services: Comments on Certain Preventive Services (June 18, 2012)
    The federal government is soliciting input to ensure that employees of religious organizations have access to a full range of preventive services, including contraception. ANA's comments reference the Code of Ethics, and ANA's history of support for a fair and equitable health care delivery systems in which all Americans have access to basic health services, including services related to reproductive health.

  • Addressed to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Comments on Stage 2 Meaningful Use Proposed Rules (May 7, 2012)
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have proposed a second stage of health information technology (HIT) regulations to improve the usefulness of information written into electronic health records. Electronic health records will permeate every area of health care, and ensuring these systems document the work of nurses will be crticial to improving care and nursing's value to the interprofessional team. In its comments, ANA discussed team-based measures, inclusion of APRNs in Medicare incentives, and a critique of the proposed quality measures chosen by CMS.

  • Addressed to the Department of Health and Human Services: Comments on the National Providers Data Bank (April 16, 2012)
    ANA has been an active member of the National Practitioner Data Bank Executive Committee. ANA commented on proposed regulations to eliminate duplicative data reporting and access requirements between the NPDB and the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank (HIPDB), and to streamline data bank operations. ANA also offered comments on one section that particularly affects APRNs, and to ensure additional language to ensure that APRNs are not reported to NPDB unless afforded equal due process rights and procedures, equivalent to those afforded physicians.

  • Addressed to the Food and Drug Administration: Comments on Improving Microbiological Safety of Cosmetic Products (January 23, 2012)
    Many cosmetic and personal care products have been found to contain harmful chemicals, and the FDA requested comments on improving the safety of these products. ANA responded that the FDA should take certain measures to ensure that personal care products are clearly labeled and that consumer protection against harmful chemicals is optimized.

2011 ANA Regulatory Comments

2010 ANA Regulatory Comments

Affordable Care Act

Other Issues

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