Senior woman with nurse at home

US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is championing a bill authorizing nurse practitioners to expand their capabilities, including performing all mandatory examinations in skilled nursing facilities.

Named the Improving Care and Access to Nurses (ICAN) Act, the measure was introduced last week and proposes to allow NPs to order and supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation; certify when patients with diabetes need therapeutic shoes; have their patients fully included in the beneficiary attribution process for the Medicare Shared Savings Program; refer patients for medical nutrition therapy; and certify and recertify a patient’s terminal illness for hospice eligibility.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) introduced the US House companion bill Sept. 13. The proposals seek to improve healthcare access for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries by increasing what NPs and advanced practice registered nurses are authorized to do.

More than 160 national, state and local organizations support the legislation.

“Today, millions of Medicare and Medicaid patients choose NPs as their health care providers, and it is critical these patients receive timely, high-quality health care from their providers of choice,” said American Association of Nurse Practitioners President April Kapu. “AANP is thrilled that Sen. Merkley has introduced the ICAN Act in the U.S. Senate and has taken another step forward to improve health care delivery for Medicare and Medicaid patients.”

Approximately 40% of Medicare beneficiaries receive care from NPs, who represent the fastest growing Medicare provider group, according to AANP.