A newly introduced bipartisan bill is designed to help federal employees injured at work get improved access to health care coverage by amending the existing Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) to allow them to seek treatment from nurse practitioners (NPs) and PAs for work-related injuries, including COVID-19 infection. The bill was introduced by Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Tim Walberg (R-IL).
In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (HR 1319) created a presumption of FECA eligibility for cases of COVID-19. However, current law prohibits NPs and PAs from being reimbursed for caring for FECA patients and from providing medical evidence to support a FECA benefit claim even though many federal employees rely on these clinicians as their primary care providers, the representatives explained. The bipartisan Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act would amend FECA by enabling PAs and NPs to be compensated for care through the program.
Courtney and Walberg spoke about the new bipartisan bill during a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee. “Nurse Practitioners and PAs provide much-needed health care services, and this bipartisan legislation will make a pivotal change to allow individuals covered by the federal workers’ compensation program to receive medical care from these valued health providers,” said Walberg. “I look forward to working with Representative Courtney to permanently fill this coverage gap and get this commonsense legislation signed into law.”
AANP and AAPA Support the Bill
“On behalf of the over 325,000 NPs nationwide, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) would like to thank Representatives Courtney and Walberg for introducing the Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act,” said AANP President April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN. “This legislation will improve access to care and patient choice by allowing federal employees who are injured or become ill during their employment to select an NP to certify their workplace injury or illness, as well as oversee their care in the federal workers’ compensation program. This legislation will update the federal workers’ compensation program to better reflect our nation’s health care system where NPs are the provider of choice for millions of patients. AANP urges Congress to pass this legislation to improve access to health care for federal employees.”
The American Academy of PAs thanked the representatives “for their dedication and commitment to improving health care access for federal employees …. Their critical legislation would expand access to high-quality, cost-effective healthcare delivered by PAs and will ensure PAs are recognized under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Program to diagnose medical conditions, certify injury and extent of disability, and oversee patient treatment and care. The current policy excludes PAs from this program and creates an outdated, overly burdensome barrier that reduces access to care for approximately 2 million federal employees,” said AAPA President and Board Chair Jennifer Orozco, MMS, PA-C, DFAAPA.
Reps. Courtney and Walberg team up for bipartisan bill to improve access to health care for federal employees. News release. December 3, 2021. Accessed December 12, 2021. https://courtney.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/reps-courtney-and-walberg-team-bipartisan-bill-improve-access-health