Veterans Deserve Care Supporters Deliver Nearly 60,000 Comments to VA Supporting Direct Access to Nurse Practitioner Care in VA Facilities
WASHINGTON D.C. -- Veterans Deserve Care, a grassroots campaign led by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) with support from the Air Force Sergeants Association, veterans organizations, veterans, caregivers, and nurse practitioners (NPs), has submitted nearly 60,000 comments to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in support of a proposed rule that would give veterans direct access to nurse practitioners in VA facilities. According to Regulations.gov, the proposed rule has received more than 162,000 total comments. On May 25, the VA established a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule that would reduce wait times in VA facilities and increase veteran access to high quality care by giving them direct access to advanced practice registered nurses, including NPs.
"The overwhelming number of comments submitted by veterans, caregivers, nurse practitioners and other concerned citizens is indicative of the high level of support for the proposed rule," said David Hebert, CEO, AANP. Dr. Cindy Cooke, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, president of AANP said, "The VA proposed rule is a zero risk, zero cost, zero delay solution to ensuring that veterans have access to the health care provider of their choice and reduced wait times at the VA."
According to the VA, 505,000 veterans are wait-listed 30 days and nearly 300,000 are waiting between 31 and 60 days for health services. The proposal is an effort to modernize the VA system and adopt a 21st century approach to health care delivery and access for veterans.
"Veterans served on the front lines. They shouldn't have to wait in line for health care. Let the VA's nurse practitioners practice to their full potential and serve our veterans," said CMSgt Robert L. Frank, USAF (ret.), chief executive officer of the Air Force Sergeants Association.
More than 4,800 NPs work across the VA providing clinical assessments, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, making diagnoses, and initiating treatment plans, including prescribing medications. Patients in 21 states and the District of Columbia already have direct access to NP care, with outcomes equivalent to or better than those of physicians. NPs hold graduate degrees, national certification, and have years of academic and clinical education.
"Americans recognize NPs' 50-year track record of providing care for our patients, including our nation's veterans," added Dr. Cooke. "This rule must be swiftly enacted for the immediate benefit of our veterans."
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and Air Force Sergeants Association strongly support enactment of the rule. Earlier today, Federal Trade Commission staff submitted written comments to the VA supporting the proposed rule. The VA's proposed rule remains open for public comment until July 25, 2016.
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. It represents the interests of more than 222,000 NPs, including more than 68,000 individual members and 200 organizations, providing a unified networking platform and advocating for their role as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered and personalized health care. The organization provides legislative leadership at the local, state and national levels, advancing health policy; promoting excellence in practice, education and research; and establishing standards that best serve NP patients and other health care consumers.