American Nurses Association Urges Biden Administration to Protect Access to Health Care as the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Ends
Keziah Proctor, firstname.lastname@example.org
SILVER SPRING, MD – The Public Health Emergency (PHE) that was activated at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020 ends today. This comes days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the end of the COVID-19 emergency on May 5, which was pivotal in initiating the response efforts of the American Nurses Association (ANA). ANA is now urging the Biden Administration and Congress to work together to protect access to critical health care resources for millions of individuals and to maintain regulatory flexibility in many areas of health care delivery once the PHE officially ends.
“While it was never meant to be permanent, the PHE, and its associated waivers, have increased access to high-quality, affordable care across the country to those who needed care the most—our loved ones, friends and neighbors,” said ANA President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. “For the nursing profession, it allowed advanced practice registered nurses to practice at the fullest extent of their education and clinical training to provide urgent care and treatment to patients and communities. And we have heard from those nurses, who have told us in no uncertain terms how important it is for these waivers to be extended. We cannot take away access to health care that millions of individuals have come to rely on.”
ANA is continuing to advocate that Congress, the White House, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services take action to extend the waivers under the PHE which have benefited vulnerable patients who struggle to access care:
- Physician Services. 42 CFR §482.12(c)(1)–(2) and §482.12(c)(4): Waiving requirements that Medicare patients admitted to a hospital be under the care of a physician, allowing APRNs to practice to the top of their licensure, while authorizing hospitals to optimize their workforce strategies.
- Responsibilities of Physicians in Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs). 42 CFR § 485.631(b)(2): Making the physician physical presence waiver permanent allows certain APRNs in CAHs to practice to the full extent of their education and clinical training and enables the entire health care team to practice to its fullest capacity in provider shortage areas.
- Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs): Physician Supervision of NPs in RHCs and FQHCs. 42 CFR 491.8(b)(1): Waiving the physician supervision of NPs in RHCs and FQHCs has provided workforce flexibility in rural and underserved communities where provider shortages have increased the most.
- Anesthesia Services. 42 CFR §482.52(a)(5), §485.639(c) (2), and §416.42 (b)(2): Allowing certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA), in accordance with a state emergency plan, to practice to the full extent of their license by permanently extending the CMS waiver removing physician supervision as a Condition of Participation.
ANA representatives and other stakeholders visited the White House on April 25th and met with the administration ahead of the deadline for the COVID-19 PHE to advocate for continued access to needed health care resources and to ensure a smooth transition. Visit ANA’s Government Affairs website, RNAction for the latest update on legislative asks and action.
About the American Nurses Association
The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's more than 4 million registered nurses. ANA advances the profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information, visit www.nursingworld.org