The battle over the Improving Care and Access to Nurses (ICAN) Act is heating up. The American Medical Association (AMA) is bombarding the media with press releases over the “dangers” of allowing nonphysicians to treat patients.

“We are deeply concerned that this broad, sweeping bill endangers the care of Medicare and Medicaid patients by expanding the types of services nonphysician practitioners [NPPs] can perform and removing physician involvement in patient care,” the AMA and national specialty and state medical associations said in a letter to leaders in the House of Representatives. It argued that the legislation would allow nurse practitioners (NPs), PAs, and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) “to perform tasks and services outside their education and training and could result in increased utilization of services, increased costs, and lower quality of care for our patients.”

The ICAN Act (HR 8812), introduced in September by Rep Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Rep Dave Joyce
(R-OH), would improve health care access for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries by removing barriers to practice for NPs, PAs, and other APRNs such as certified nurse midwives, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists, noted the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). The AANP is urging members to write members of Congress in support of the bill.

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The COVID-19 epidemic revealed weaknesses in the medical workforce including high rates of burnout and early retirement as well as physician shortages, particularly in rural areas. The pandemic proved, however “that when nurses are allowed to practice to the fullest extent of their education and training, access to care increases and patient choice is strengthened. Our laws should reflect this reality,” said Congressman Joyce, co-chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus. Allowing NPs and PAs to practice to the full extent of their licensure and training would address many of these shortfalls and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

Write your representatives, and let your voices be heard!