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Provide Federal Employees Timely Access to Health Care for Workplace Injuries

ACTION NEEDED: Urge the Senate to pass the bipartisan House-passed legislation, H.R. 6087, the Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act, which would amend the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) to authorize nurse practitioners (NPs) to certify disabilities and oversee treatment for injured federal workers in accordance with their state scope of practice.

Background

Under current law, federal employees can select an NP as their health care provider under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. However, FECA mandates that if the federal employee is injured on the job, only a physician can make the diagnosis, certify the injury and extent of the disability and oversee the patient’s treatment and care. This outdated requirement is contrary to the majority of state workers’ compensation programs that currently authorize NPs to provide this care for non-federal employees. This barrier places an additional burden on the over two million federal employees, depriving them from receiving health care from their provider of choice, as well as hindering timely access to care and continuity of care.

H.R. 6087 would update FECA to authorize NPs to certify disabilities and oversee treatment for injured federal workers in accordance with their state scope of practice. This bill increases access to care for federal employees, particularly in rural areas, and according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) it may get injured federal employees back to work more quickly. As a result, CBO states that this bill is budget neutral. This bill supports patient choice by authorizing a federal employee to choose an NP, PA or physician to manage their care, and improves continuity of care by enabling injured federal employees to maintain their trusted health care relationships with NPs.

This bill went through regular order in the House with the Workforce Protections Subcommittee holding a hearing on the bill in December 2021 and the full Education and Labor Committee holding a markup on the bill in March 2022, ultimately passing that bill out of committee with a bipartisan, unanimous voice vote. H.R. 6087 was then passed by the House in June 2022 with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 325-83.

NPs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who are prepared at the masters or doctoral level to provide primary, acute, chronic and specialty care to patients of all ages and backgrounds. Decades of evidence continue to show that NP provided health care is high quality and cost effective. NPs comprise over a quarter of our primary care workforce nationwide, and almost half in rural communities. NPs are already primary care providers within the Medicare and Medicaid programs and have full practice authority within the Veterans Health Administration and Indian Health Services. They are also included in the definition of an “acceptable medical source” by the Social Security Administration for the purposes of certifying that an individual has a medically determinable impairment. In these respects, FECA is an outlier among federal health care programs. H.R. 6087 is no-cost, common sense legislation which increases access to high-quality health care for injured federal employees.

Request

AANP calls on the Senate to take up and pass the House-passed legislation, H.R. 6087, the Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act.

For additional information, please contact the AANP Government Affairs Office at 703-740-2529 or governmentaffairs@aanp.org.

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