Much is happening in Congress and in state legislatures that will have an impact on nursing. Here are some current issues to keep an eye on over the next few months.


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* Closing a loophole in home health care. Progress is being made toward passage of the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (S 227 and HR 2267), which would allow advanced practice nurses (APNs) and physician assistants to order home health services under Medicare in accordance with state law. Current law prevents APNs from signing home health plans of care and from certifying Medicare patients as eligible for the home health benefit. The resulting delays cost time and money and compromise patient care. Visit http://bit.ly/cfaLYq for more information.


* Conflicting proposals for APNs in Missouri. Proposed modifications to existing laws in Missouri (SB 679 and HB 1371) would give the state's APNs the ability to practice to the full extent of their training, including prescribing without the authority of a collaborative agreement with a physician. The bill would also allow nurse anesthetists to deliver anesthesia without supervision. At the same time, however, bills proposing to restrict the scope of nurse anesthetists' practice are circulating through the Missouri House and Senate (HB 1399 and SB 682). The Missouri Association of Nurse Anesthetists is urging its members to contact their legislators in opposition to these bills.


* Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act. American Nurses Association (ANA) president Karen A. Daley testified before a House appropriations subcommittee on March 29 about the critical need to develop a stronger nursing workforce to fill a projected 1.2 million jobs that will be created within the next decade in response to the health care demands of an aging population. Daley urged the subcommittee to support President Obama's proposed $251 million for nursing-workforce development programs for fiscal year 2013 and argued against Title VIII cuts.



To monitor national legislation, you can search for bills online at http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov. To locate your specific state's legislation, visit the MultiState Associates Web site (http://bit.ly/ze2RkK), which has links to all 50 states' legislative pages.