Final Push for Federal PA Priorities Underway as Clock Ticks on 117th Congress

All PAs Urged to Take Part in Critical Advocacy Efforts

September 26, 2022

By Jennifer M. Orozco, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, President and Chair, Board of Directors and Lisa M. Gables, CPA, Chief Executive Officer

With the midterm elections drawing near and roughly four legislative weeks remaining in the current 117th Congress, federal lawmakers are facing considerable and complex unfinished business – including the need to pass funding legislation to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this month.

Despite the ticking clock and the distractions of the impending midterms, AAPA’s Federal Advocacy team has remained diligently and strategically focused on PA-priority legislation that has the potential to directly impact PA practice: specifically, the Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act (H.R. 6087) and the Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act (H.R. 1956/S.1986).

H.R. 6087, which passed the House of Representatives in early June with broad bipartisan support on a vote of 325 to 83, seeks to modernize the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) to cover services provided to thousands of injured federal workers by PAs and nurse practitioners (NPs). The fate of the bill now lies with the Senate, and AAPA’s Advocacy staff is aggressively working to get the bill passed out of the Senate and to the President’s desk for signature.

H.R. 1956/S.1986 would immediately authorize PAs (and NPs) to order or supervise cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation services (CR/PR) for Medicare patients. Currently, PAs and NPs are not authorized to supervise these rehabilitation programs until 2024 due to previously enacted legislation that has not yet taken effect.

This undue restriction reduces access to CR/PR services, particularly in physician shortage areas; increases hospital readmissions for patients who lack access to these essential rehabilitation services; and increases overall healthcare costs. Authorizing PAs to supervise and order this type of care sooner would provide access to patients who might otherwise not be able to receive it during a time of acute need. There is no medical reason for this delay – Congress should act now to make this important improvement to Medicare policy effective immediately.

Like all organizations, AAPA will be competing for Congress’ attention during the rush to wrap up the Congressional session. This makes the upcoming LAS Capitol Hill Day – part of the Leadership and Advocacy Summit (LAS) – even more critical and timely to our efforts to secure additional Congressional support for both bills. PAs and PA students from across the country will unite to share their powerful patient stories with lawmakers, to educate and inform on the value PAs bring to today’s modern healthcare.

Legislators look to PAs to provide them with perspective and information on healthcare decisions affecting their communities. Leading up to LAS, we encourage all PAs to go to AAPA’s Legislative Action Center to send messages of support for these two bills and to stay informed on their progress.

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