Newswise — PARK RIDGE, Ill. (AANA)Leaders of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) have asked Congress to prevent a 2% cut to Medicare reimbursements for healthcare providers effective March 31, 2021. 

Since 2013, Medicare spending has been subject to sequestration—a process that enacts automatic, across-the-board reductions in Medicare payments to all healthcare providers by up to 2%. In December, Congress delayed the Medicare sequester. 

The AANA is working to ensure that Congress again takes action,” said AANA President Steven M. Sertich, CRNA, MAE, JD, EsquireCertified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) across the country have courageously stepped up to the challenge in caring for patientsNow is not the time to be burdening our nation’s heroes with a new cut to their Medicare reimbursements. 

The AANA has joined a coalition to urge the delay, following the March 16 introduction of bipartisan legislation to extend the Medicare sequester moratorium for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has indicated the health emergency declaration will continue for the remainder of the year. 

CRNAs are licensed as independent practitioners who plan and deliver anesthesia, pain management, and related care to patients of all health complexities across the lifespan. In 1986, CRNAs became the first nursing specialty accorded direct reimbursement rights from Medicare. As advanced practice registered nurses, CRNAs are uniquely trained to provide critical care, anesthesia, airway, and ventilation management expertise, making them one of the most highly valuable and sought-after healthcare providers during the pandemic. 

To increase capacity of the U.S. healthcare delivery system during pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) suspended the physician supervision requirements for CRNAs in March 2020. Several governors also removed many barriers to CRNA practice. According to a January 2021 CMS report, CRNAs were among the top 20 specialties that served the most beneficiaries in non-telehealth care between March 2020 and June 2020—the height of the COVID-19 public health emergency.