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Advanced Practice Nurses Stand Ready to Care for America's Most Vulnerable Populations

The ICAN Act Will Address Workforce Shortages Across the Country

ROSEMONT, Ill., June 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the U.S. healthcare system faces workforce shortages and expanding costs, but new legislation will allow advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to work at the top of their education and training to give patients across the country access to vital healthcare services.

The Improving Care and Access to Nurses (ICAN) Act (HR 2713) removes practice barriers for APRNs, including Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), helping to ensure that all Medicare and Medicaid patients have access to quality healthcare services, including anesthesia delivery and pain management services.

"The ICAN Act removes superfluous regulations that serve as barriers to providing care, especially at a time when healthcare facilities in rural and other underserved communities face a shortage of providers," said AANA President Angela Mund, DNP, CRNA. "With years of experience treating the sickest patients in critical care settings, CRNAs are trained and qualified to administer every type of anesthesia to every type of patient across clinical settings."

CRNAs, as advanced practice registered nurses, are members of one of the most trusted professions according to a Gallup poll where patients for two decades have ranked the ethical standards of nurses higher than physicians. CRNAs have more than seven years of education and clinical training, including post-graduate preparation at the master's or doctoral level to provide anesthesia care to patients of all ages and backgrounds, and in all settings.

Rural and underserved communities are poised to benefit from this legislation, as CRNAs are the predominant anesthesia providers in these areas and are more likely to work in regions with lower median incomes and larger populations of unemployed or uninsured citizens.

More than 235 healthcare and community organizations, such as the National Rural Health Association, have called on Congress to pass this important legislation. The ICAN Act follows recommendations from a wide range of nonpartisan healthcare groups, including the National Academy of Medicine and the Bipartisan Policy Center's Rural Health Task Force. 

When anesthesia delivery is staffed and directed by CRNAs, costly duplication of services such as supervision is avoided. This delivery model provides healthcare facilities with the flexibility to provide the highest quality care to patients while maximizing limited resources.

"As a nurse anesthetist, I know firsthand how important it is to allow all advanced practice registered nurses to work to the top of our education and clinical training," Mund said. "During the pandemic, Medicare temporarily waived practice barriers and allowed CRNAs and others to step up on the front lines and expand our healthcare workforce. Returning to restrictions that are inefficient, increase costs, and reduce access to care is not the direction our healthcare system should be headed."

SOURCE American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology

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