3 things states need to do to ensure patients receive the care they need, according to new HHS report

The recent report by HHS, "Reforming America's Healthcare System through Choice and Competition," calls for removal of practice barriers and is a positive step for both patients and non-physician healthcare providers. The report sends an important message to policymakers, the medical profession, allied health professionals and the public about the importance of fully utilizing all healthcare professionals to ensure patient access to safe and affordable healthcare.

The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists supports these efforts to ensure non-physician professionals like CRNAs can provide all patients convenient access to safe, cost-effective healthcare, specifically:

1. Broaden scope of practice: States should consider changes to their scope-of-practice statutes to allow all healthcare providers to practice to the top of their licenses and use their full skill sets. Broadening scope of practice will allow for more effective, expedient delivery of essential healthcare and prevent gaps in access to vital services such as anesthesia care, especially in rural and other medically underserved parts of the country.

2. Improve workforce mobility: State-based licensing often inhibits delivery of healthcare services across state lines by making it more difficult for qualified healthcare professionals licensed in one state to practice in another, even though most healthcare providers complete nationally certified education and training programs and sit for national qualifying exams. States should consider adopting interstate compacts and model laws that improve license portability. This would greatly improve patient access to care by recognizing nationally certified healthcare providers who are hindered by current state laws.

3. Loosen network adequacy requirements: Strict network adequacy standards, including narrow networks, could limit the number of providers or types of providers included in health plan networks. This prevents enrollees from having adequate choice or access to providers and may leave some enrollees with only the option of more expensive care from out-of-network providers. Consistent with the federal government's goal of establishing provider networks that ensure extensive access to care, health carriers should loosen their requirements to ensure patient access to a range of beneficial, safe and cost-efficient professionals, including CRNAs.

Garry Brydges is president of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, which represents nearly 53,000 nurse anesthetists.

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