Newswise — Park Ridge, Ill. (AANA)—A new law signed April 6 by Maine Governor Janet Mills requires Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) services to be covered and reimbursed by insurers, consistent with other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in the state. The law also states that insurers may not prohibit CRNAs from participating in provider networks, offering patients across the state greater access to high-quality care.Health insurance carriers are now required to provide coverage for services within the CRNA scope of practice that are covered under a health plan.  The law affects policies that go into effect or renew on or after Jan. 1, 2022.

Susan DeCarlo-Piccirillo, DNP, CRNA, APRN, president of the Maine Association of Nurse Anesthetists (MEANA), applauded the provision, “This will alleviate a burden on patients and facilities that previously faced an onerous process to be reimbursed for CRNA services. By ending billing discrepancies for CRNAs in Maine, patients have greater access to anesthesia care, with less risk of out of pocket cost and at no cost to the state of Maine.”  

There are more than 350 CRNAs and student registered nurse anesthetists in Maine. Approximately 60% of anesthetics in Maine’s rural and critical access hospitals are delivered by CRNAs. CRNAs comprise 64% of the state’s anesthesia care providers. “CRNAs are proven providers, and removing the many barriers to their practice will only increase their ability to respond to the pressing need for basic anesthesia health,” DeCarlo-Piccirillo said. 

“Patients benefit the greatest from a healthcare system where they receive easily accessible care from an appropriate choice of safe, high-quality, and cost-effective providers, such as CRNAs and other APRNs,” said DeCarlo-Piccirillo. “By passing this legislation and with Gov. Mills’ signature, Maine is protecting care for the most vulnerable by strengthening network adequacy and helping to ensure all patients have access to quality care from the provider of their choice.”

In December 2020, the U.S. Congress passed the “No Surprises Act” with a critical nondiscrimination provision that prohibits insurance health plans from discriminating against qualified licensed healthcare professionals, such as CRNAs and other non-physician providers.