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To ensure our nation’s Veterans have access to high-quality healthcare, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has finalized a rule that would allow certain advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) working in the VHA to practice to the full extent of their training, education and certification. Released on December 14, 2016, the rule irresponsibly excludes Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). Granting Full Practice Authority to CRNAs is consistent with current healthcare delivery models for our nation’s active duty service members, will reduce wait times for primary and surgical care, ensure patient safety, and give Veterans access to the timely, high-quality care they have earned.

There are currently more than 900 CRNAs working in the VHA. Current VHA policy however restricts their ability to practice to the full extent of their education and training and often results in outdated and impractical practice models that do not and would not exist in other healthcare settings. By removing these barriers, the VA would align itself with recommendations from the Institute of Medicare and other evidence-based studies (see below).

Recognizing CRNAs, along with all other VHA APRNs, to their full education and training provides a common-sense solution to the challenges associated with ensuring America’s Veterans have access to the high-quality healthcare they need and deserve. Through this measure, the VHA can make optimal use of these critical members of the healthcare workforce across the entire care continuum.

CRNA Full Practice Authority is supported by the evidence-based recommendations advanced by the National Academy of Medicine, the congressionally mandated Independent Assessment of the VA, and the blue-ribbon Commission on Care. It is also current policy in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Combat Support Hospitals, and Forward Surgical Teams, and is supported by the AARP, American Hospital Association, and several Veterans Service Organizations, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, AMVETS, Military Officers Association of America, Air Force Sergeants Association, Reserve Officers Association, and the Naval Enlisted Reserve Association.

What’s at Stake

Despite receiving the support of veterans and veterans groups from across the country, tens of thousands of healthcare providers, dozens of members of Congress and national patient advocacy groups, the effort to fully utilize CRNAs in the Veterans Health Administration is under attack from special interests who benefit from the current wasteful system and seek to put politics before policy when it comes to Veterans healthcare.

Your help is needed in submitting a comment to the Veterans Administration supporting Veterans’ access to quality healthcare from CRNAs.

APRNs in the U.S.

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are a vital part of the health system of the United States. They are registered nurses educated at the Master’s or Doctoral level and in a specific role and patient population. APRNs are prepared by education and certification to assess, diagnose, and manage patient problems, order tests, and prescribe medications.

APRNs consist of nurse practitioners (NPs) who deliver primary, specialized, and community healthcare; certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) who provide the full range of anesthesia services as well as chronic pain management; certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) who are experts in primary care, maternal, and women’s health; and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) offering acute, chronic, specialty, and community healthcare services; as well as APRN students and the faculty who educate them.

Learn more about the efficacy and safety of APRN services through the below resources.