Federal agencies consider telehealth, scope of practice proposals
In an effort to increase access to health care providers for members of the military and veterans, federal agencies are seeking ways to expand telemedicine and practice authority for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
The 2017 defense authorization bill expands telemedicine under the Department of Defense (DoD) TRICARE program, and would shift the definition of “location of care” from where the patient is located to where the doctor is located for purposes of medical licensing, professional liability, and reimbursements. To address lengthy patient wait times, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently proposed to grant full practice authority to APRNs.
Some members of the medical community have raised concerns that these actions are not only against the best interests of patients, but also could lead to similar changes outside of the DoD and VA. Physicians should take note, because issues of licensing and scope of practice can arise in the most unlikely of places.
In response to the VA’s proposed rule to grant full practice authority to APRNs, the American Medical Association (AMA) submitted a letter with signatories from various medical practice areas, and the AACU commented in a separate letter that raised points that are of particular interest to urologists.