235 organizations back legislation removing federal barriers to care

More than 235 organizations, including the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Association, expressed support for the Improving Care and Access to Nurses Act in a June 6 letter to Congress.

Removing federal barriers to care for nurse practitioners and physicians assistants — which the ICAN Act seeks to do — would help expand the access of care, particularly in needed rural regions, according to backers. 

Opponents from organizations like the American Medical Association say physicians are trained for patient care and removing them from some of the areas of oversight is concerning.

In the June 6 letter, the 235 organizations note that advanced practice registered nurses are critical to providing care for individuals in need, particularly Medicare patients. 

According to data from CMS, the letter cites that "as of 2021, over 235,000 APRNs treated Medicare patients and over 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries received care from an APRN."  

They also reportedly accounted for 50 percent of primary care clinicians in rural areas who treated Medicare patients in 2018.

"This critical legislation will remove outdated barriers to practice that delay access to health care for our patients. …" April Kapu, DNP, AANP president said in a June 6 news release. "The ICAN Act will move health care delivery forward for patients, providers and our nation."

Per a recent report, the ANA also recommended that "all relevant state, federal and private organizations enable nurses to practice to the full extent of their education and training by removing practice barriers that prevent them from more fully addressing social needs and social determinants of health and improve health care access, quality and value."  

The ICAN Act legislation was reintroduced to Congress in April after not moving forward in the last congressional session. Next, the legislation is set to be reviewed by both the energy and commerce and the ways and means committees for further consideration.

Editor's note: This article was updated June 12 at 5:05 p.m. CT. 

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