Nursing groups throw weight behind ICAN Act

Mackenzie Bean

Nursing associations are voicing their support for House legislation reintroduced this week that would remove practice barriers for advanced practice registered nurses.

The Improving Care and Access to Nurses Act, or ICAN Act, was reintroduced April 20 after failing to pass in the last congressional session in late 2022. The legislation would permit nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other APRNs to provide certain services under Medicare and Medicaid. 

American Nurses Association President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, RN, commended the legislation’s reintroduction, saying it would “improve care for millions of Americans by removing significant legislative and administrative barriers that have prevented hundreds of thousands of APRNs across the country from maximizing their ability to meet the needs of their patients,” according to a April 20 statement.

The American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology also voiced its support of the bill, which would remove physician supervision of certified registered nurse anesthetists. 

“As the only anesthesia providers in most rural hospitals, and the predominant providers in underserved communities, CRNAs play an important role in maintaining critical access in communities across the country,” AANA President Angela Mund, DNP, CRNA, said April 20. “This critical legislation will help ensure that everyone who needs access to the high-quality care provided by advanced practice registered nurses such as CRNAs can have it.” 

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners echoed this messaging, noting that more than 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries receive care from nurse practitioners. NPs are also the fastest growing Medicare provider group, the association said.  

“We urge Congress to pass this important legislation,” said AANP President April Kapu, DNP, APRN. “These common-sense updates to the Medicare and Medicaid programs will better reflect the current healthcare workforce and ensure patients continue to receive the high-quality healthcare they need and deserve.”

AANA, ANA and AANP’s position on the legislation contrasts that of nearly 90 physician groups who have opposed the bill, arguing that it could hurt care quality and increase costs.