Capitol Update, brought to you by the American Nurses Association
 Capitol Update, a legislative newsletter for nurses
Volume 6/Issue Number 3 March 31, 2008
Article Photo ANA Part of Senate Roundtable on Value-Based Purchasing

On March 6, the ANA participated in the Senate Finance Committee's Roundtable discussion of the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program. The VBP program attempts to relate Medicare Part B reimbursement to quality -- versus quantity -- of care. Quality measurement is a key aspect of VBP, along with performance-based financial incentives. Isis Montalvo, RN, MS, MBA, Manager, Nursing Practice and Policy, represented the ANA at the roundtable where prominent policy makers and health care providers also participated.

House Passes Mental Health Parity Legislation, Negotiations on House-Senate Compromise Continue

On March 5, the House approved legislation requiring health plans offering mental health coverage to provide the same benefits for mental illness as they do for other medical conditions. The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007 (H.R. 1424), which passed by a vote of 268-148, still differs in a few important ways from the Mental Health Parity Bill passed by the Senate in September of last year.

156 House Members Urge Title VIII Funding Increase

Thanks to your strong outreach, a bipartisan group of 156 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to the House Appropriations Committee supporting $200 million in FY 2009 appropriations for the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development programs. ANA needs your help today to build support for a similar letter supporting nursing workforce funding in the Senate. Read the full article to learn more!

Can Health Care Reform Top the 2009 Agenda?

In 2009, the U.S. may have a historic opportunity to achieve meaningful health care reform if interested parties are able to hit the ground running at the beginning of a new administration and congress. ANA's participation in a broad based coalition whose aim is to achieve success through a well funded integrated health reform campaign structure will be a means to achieve this goal.


MedPAC's Recognition of Nurse Practitioners

At the March meeting of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), staff proposed that health care providers other than physicians - including nurse practioners - could be considered primary care providers and "medical homes" to coordinate care for complex patients, and earn additional compensation.


Washington State Nurses Announces the Passage of Safe Nurse Staffing

The Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) is pleased to announce the March 10th passage of "Safe Nurse Staffing" (House Bill 3123). The bill passed almost unanimously and was signed into law by the Governor on March 17. Although eleven states plus the District of Columbia have passed some type of safe staffing legislation or adopted regulations, Washington is one of five states to address staffing comprehensively.

APRNs Celebrate Gains in Colorado

Within the past two weeks, Colorado's Governor Ritter signed three bills into law, permitting Coloradan's increased access to care with greater efficiency. Consistent with recommendations from the 2008 Blue Ribbon Commission on healthcare reform, passage of House Bills 1060, 1061, and 1094 updated statutes recognizing Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) education and skill. This legislative success can be attributed to the hard work of the Colorado Nurses Association.

Copyright 2008, American Nurses Association
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Nurses on the Front Lines Supporting Senator Clinton

Registered nurses represent the largest group of healthcare professionals - YOU have the chance to use your power at the ballot box to make health care a priority and to ensure that the concerns and goals of the nursing profession are represented on the national agenda!

N-PAL Visits With Representative in District Office

On February 29, 2008, ANA Nurse Political Action Leader (N-PAL) for the 9th District of New Jersey, Valera Hascup, PhD (C), MSN, RNC and Sharon Rainer, MSN, RN, APN, C, Deputy Director of the New Jersey State Nurses Association, met with Congressman Steve Rothman (D-NJ-09) at his Hackensack, NJ district office to discuss nursing issues of concern to the ANA and NJSNA.


VA Launches New Travel Nurse Corps

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has created a Travel Nurse Corps for VA nurses to travel and work throughout the VA system. The program was developed to address the nationwide nursing shortage, improve the quality of care for veterans, and avoid the high cost of employing contract nurses, according to Cathy Rick, RN, VA's chief nursing officer.

FDA Alert: Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs)

On March 9, 2008, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new alert regarding erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) � Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa), Epogen and Procrit (epoetin alfa). Studies have shown that ESAs can increase the risk of: serious and life-threatening side effects, or death, in cancer patients; deep venous thrombosis (DVT) in patients awaiting orthopedic surgery; and complications for patients with chronic renal failure.

ANA-PAC Hopes to "Hit One Out of the Park" at the House of Delegates

For the latest information on ANA-PAC events at the House of Delegates, please contact Angela.Song@ana.org or look in next week's ANA Delegate Insider. You won't want to "strike out" and not get the latest information. "Step" lively now!

What's New in Medicare?
March 2008 saw several developments in Medicare policies and procedures. Medicare will begin covering home blood monitoring for patients taking Coumadin for chronic atrial fibrillation or venous thromboembolism, in addition to patients with mechanical heart valves. In one of the largest settlements of its kind, an agreement was reached to pay hospitals $666 million for a failed Medicare reimbursement policy from the 1980's. As of March 1, nurse practitioners and other health care providers must submit Medicare claims using their National Provider Identifier (NPI) number. On March 3, CMS replaced the General Use Advanced Beneficiary Notice (ABN-G) with the new "ABN of Noncoverage."