ASA Says CMS Final Rule Jeopardizes Patient Safety, Increase Risk for Fraud

The American Society of Anesthesiologists expressed its outrage over the final rule adopted by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which will allow Medicare funds to be used to pay certified registered nurse anesthetists to diagnose and treat chronic pain.

The ASA believe the policy jeopardizes patient safety and increases the risk for fraud and prescription drug abuse. The organization maintains that CRNAs are not properly trained to treat chronic pain, as opposed to anesthesiologists, who must undergo a rotation in pain care during residency training.

"Current restrictions on nurse anesthetists providing chronic pain services are appropriate and necessary because nurse anesthetists simply lack the training and education to accurately diagnose, evaluate and treat patients with chronic pain," said ASA President John Zerwas, MD.

The organization also expressed confusion that CMS overruled its Medicare administrative contractors who reviewed the issue. The final rule also states CMS is "unable, at this time, to assess the appropriateness of the CRNA training relating to specific procedures."

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