Newswise — PARK RIDGE, Ill.—To ensure U.S. veterans receive high-quality, timely care, the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA) joined 33 healthcare provider organizations, representing millions of providers, in an Oct. 7 letter to the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) supporting the VA’s efforts to develop national standards of practice for its healthcare workers. The organizations also urge the VA to ensure that those standards do not put unnecessary restrictions on qualified providers scope of practice. 

“While the legal authority for the VA to create these national standards is clear, ultimately, creating these uniform standards is about increasing veteran access to timely, high-quality healthcare,” stated the Oct. 7 letter. 

The letter pushes back against a recent letter by the American Medical Association that called for a halt to the development of national standards while also suggesting that physicians should have a say in developing standards for non-MD/DO providers. The AANA signed letter argued that developing national standards that allow providers to practice to the top of their scope in the VA would increase veterans’ access to care, decrease wait times, and give the VA needed flexibility with rural facilities and providers working across state lines. 

In a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough earlier this fall, AANA President Dina Velocci, DNP, CRNA, APRN, highlighted the importance of allowing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and other providers within the VA to work at the top of their education and training. 

“Given the VA’s well-established federal supremacy, there is no doubt the VA can and should create national practice standards that are reflective of the full scope and education of healthcare providers,” wrote Velocci. 

“The development of national standards of practice is critical to ensuring that our veterans have access to the care they deserve and will ensure continuity of care,” Velocci said in the letter. “Every veteran should be able to access that care in any VA facility. Ensuring that national practice standards for non-MD/DO providers are robust and allow providers to practice to the top of their scope will help to increase access to care, reduce wait times for veterans at VHA facilities, and reduce costs.” 

Earlier this year, AMVETS, one of the largest veterans’ service organizations in the United States, called for similar standards during testimony in front of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. AMVETS, in their testimony, stated that the creation of national practice standards was also necessary to implement the new joint VA Department of Defense electronic health record system. 

“AMVETS believes these new national practice standards must be inclusive of all health care services that its health care professionals are authorized to provide in any state. Anything short of fully comprehensive practice standards will unnecessarily limit Veteran access to care and negatively impact Veteran access and health outcomes,” according to their testimony.