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AANP & Veteran Groups Call for Streamlined Access to Veterans' Health Care

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) today was joined by representatives from key veteran groups in calling for swift adoption of a recent proposal by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to streamline access to health care for veterans. Nearly 5,000 nurse practitioners are gathered in San Antonio, Texas for AANP's 2016 National Conference, which will address a variety of important issues, including a plan to increase veterans' access to care. The VA's proposed rule would grant veterans direct access to the high-quality care provided by advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), including the 4,800 nurse practitioners (NPs) working for the VA, and reduce wait times.

"Veterans support the VA's efforts to provide our nation's heroes with direct access to high-quality nurse practitioner care in the VA system," said Dr. Cindy Cooke, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, AANP president. "Today, veterans needlessly wait far too long to receive the health care they need and deserve."

On May 25, the VA opened the 60-day public comment period on a proposed regulation that would give veterans direct access to high quality primary care delivered by NPs at VA facilities. NPs are already authorized to work at this level in 21 states and the District of Columbia, with outcomes equivalent to or better than those of their physician counterparts.

"The VA has put forward a solid plan to modernize the VA system and adopt a 21st century approach to health care delivery," added Cooke.

The 4,800 NPs at VA facilities already care for veterans by providing clinical assessments, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, making diagnoses, and initiate and manage treatment plans including prescribing medications.

"It's time to make this care directly and more readily accessible to our nation's veterans by opening access to NPs in our veterans' health system," said Cooke. "We need to support our heroes by supporting enactment of this step forward by the VA."

In addition to Dr. Cooke, the following veterans spoke at today's press conference.
Lt. Colonel Alicia Rossiter, U.S. Air Force (retired), DNP, PCPNP-BC, FNP, FAANP
Major General Jimmie O. Keenan, U.S. Army (retired), MSN, RN, FACHE, FAAN
Captain Elizabeth Barker, U.S. Navy (retired), PhD, CNP, FAANP, FACHE, FNAP, FAAN

San Antonio American Legion Leaders:
Lloyd Buckmaster, American Legion 20th District Commander, San Antonio
Roberto E. 'Eddie' De La Garza
Enrique Martin, U.S. Air Force Desert Storm Veteran

The VA is receiving comments on the proposed regulation through July 25.

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.

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