Newswise — PARK RIDGE, Ill.(AANA) – On Feb. 2, 2022, the House Veterans Affairs Committee moved legislation forward to remove wage restrictions and increase recruitment opportunities for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists in the Veterans Affairs health system.
During a markup in the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Wed. Feb. 2, Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) introduced an amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 5575, the Department of Veterans Affairs Nurse and Physician Assistant Retention and Income Security Enhancement Act (VA Nurse and Physician Assistant RAISE Act).
The amendment added language that would lift the pay cap for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) working in the Veterans Administration (VA). The full committee voted to advance the legislation, with the CRNA language, to the full House. AANA stands proudly by this legislation and fully supports its passage.
More than 1,100 CRNAs currently work in the VA, providing the highest quality care to our nation’s veterans and serving on the frontlines of the ongoing pandemic. CRNAs have historically provided much of the anesthesia to our active-duty military in combat arenas since World War I and predominate in veterans’ hospitals and the U.S. Armed Services, where they enjoy full practice authority in every branch of the military. CRNAs have been in high demand during the pandemic, due to their skill in ventilator and airway management, as well as anesthesia and pain management.
Of the legislation, Rep. Underwood said, “Increasing these pay limitations is the right thing to do for health professionals who make such enormous sacrifices to care for those who served our country. And it’s also a critical step to ensure that our veterans have access to the highest quality care they deserve from the very best clinicians our country has to offer.”
The lack of full practice authority for CRNAs in the VA, as well as the current wage cap that keeps CRNA pay significantly below private sector levels, has led to issues with CRNA recruitment and retention within the VA. The AANA applauds Rep. Underwood for her work on this legislation and the Committee’s bipartisan support for this bill to help improve conditions for providers and our nation’s veterans. We encourage the full House and Senate to take up this legislation in a timely manner to help to ensure that the VA has the staff needed to provide the necessary care for our veterans.