The California Medical Association recently reported that, “Congress is rushing to push through a bill that recklessly expands scope of practice at the federal level. Through a parliamentary procedure typically reserved for non-controversial legislation, H.R. 6087, the “Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act,” was rushed to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, and approved by unanimous consent. This bill now moves to the U.S. Senate.
If passed, this bill would allow nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) to diagnose, prescribe, treat, and certify an injury and extent of disability for purposes of compensating federal workers under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. To take this function away from physicians who have the proper education, training, and expertise to make these evaluations is a threat to patients and the practice of medicine and is quite simply, unacceptable.
Not only does H.R. 6087 threaten patients’ health and safety, but its dangerous approach has also been shown to lead to increased health care costs while doing little to expand access, particularly in rural and underserved areas. The American Medical Association (AMA) sent a letter to democratic and republican Congressional leaders detailing these and other pitfalls associated with this legislation.
This bill was pushed through on consent based in part on the argument that it would not preempt state laws that prohibit NPs and PAs from practicing without physician supervision. The argument that this bill does not preempt state laws is illusory. Enactment of a federal law that expands NP and PA practice sends a strong message to state legislatures and sets a powerful precedent that will be difficult to overcome at the state level.
It is critical that as physicians, we stand together and send a powerful message to Congress: Don’t support legislation that prevents physicians from being at the center of critical health care decisions: VOTE NO on H.R. 6087. AMA, the California Medical Association and all of organized medicine will work to stop this reckless legislation.”