Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) introduced The Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act (H.R. 6087) on Nov. 30. If it becomes a law, this legislation would make it easier for injured workers to receive care quickly.
Here’s everything we know so far.
Breaking down H.R. 6087 – The Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act
The bill, if it becomes law, would allow both nurse practitioners and physicians assistants “acting within the scope of their practice” to:
- Prescribe or recommend treatment for injured workers.
- Certify the nature of an injury and the “probable extent” of a disability.
- Provide prescribed treatment to an injured worker.
- Participate, with a Department of Labor-designated physician, in a mandatory workers’ comp examination of an injured worker.
Currently, only physicians are permitted to carry out those tasks, which can not only cause inconvenience to workers but can also prevent them from receiving timely care.
“Core federal health care programs, including Medicare and the Veterans Affairs system, already recognize services delivered by nurse practitioners and physician assistants if provided within the scope of practice allowed by state law,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), chair of the House Education and Labor Committee.
“We live in a country where people are increasingly turning to nurse practitioners and physician assistants as their primary health care provider. This is particularly true in rural America where they are disproportionately impacted by physician shortages.”
How Representatives Responded to the Bill
The bill received support from both sides of the aisle, with Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), a ranking committee member, saying she was “proud” to support the bill.
“Every American worker should receive timely treatment when facing a work-related injury,” Foxx said.
“With many rural areas experiencing critical provider shortages, this legislation will ensure federal workers seeking medical care have expanded access to treatment by allowing physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide hands-on care within their scope of practice under state law. This means that injured workers will get what they need most: care from medical experts they choose and trust.”
However, there has been some opposition to the legislation, most notably from The American Medical Association. In a letter sent June 5 to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara cautioned the House against the bill.
“The AMA is concerned that H.R. 6087, while perhaps well-intentioned for speedier workers’ compensation determinations, will actually jeopardize patient care. Moreover, while all health care professionals play a critical role in providing care to patients, and NPs and PAs are important members of the care team, their skill sets are not interchangeable with that of fully educated and trained physicians.”
Currently, the bill is under consideration by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
That committee will schedule a business meeting to provide members with an opportunity to make changes and add amendments to the proposed legislation. Once complete, committee members will vote on the revised version of H.R. 6087.
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