FANA calls on Senate to “carefully consider” nurse anesthetist bill

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Nurse anesthetists are asking the Florida Senate to consider carefully allowing nurses to provide certain services without the supervision of the Physician.

The Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists (FANA) called on Senators Thursday to evaluate the proposal — a bill already under review in the House –  to allow Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) to provide anesthesia services to patients without physician supervision.

FANA believes House Bill 7071 — which recently passed the House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation — would eliminate unnecessary and costly duplication of health care services, creating an “open-market approach” to Florida health care.

“The big question here is: would removing physician supervision of CRNAs in any way compromise the quality and safety of the anesthesia care being given?” asked FANA President Jorge Valdes. “And, the resounding answer to that question, based on independent, peer-reviewed studies and testimony given is: NO.”

“Not only do CRNAs deliver anesthesia just as safely as anesthesiologists,” Valdes added, “but CRNAs administering anesthesia without the supervision of a physician is the most cost-effective method of delivery and is critical to containing health care costs for Florida’s patients and the state.”

The Florida Medical Association, which represents more than 20,000 physicians practicing in the state, strongly opposes removing restrictions on advanced practice nursing. However, the bill has gathered widespread support from the Florida Health Care Association, Florida Chamber and Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Hospital Association, Florida TaxWatch and the AARP.

State Rep. Gary Pigman, vice chair of Health Care Workforce Innovation, believes the House gave the idea a “thorough review.” The Avon Park Republican, en emergency room physician, is a leading proponent of giving CRNAs expanded powers, including prescribing certain treatments and medications without the supervision of a doctor.

“We need to continue to make changes to bring our health care system into the 21st Century and help drive down costs for care,” Pigman said. “CRNAs practicing independently would be an effective solution to take us in that direction, and I urge our colleagues in the Senate to bring this proposal to the table.”

To support its arguments, FANA cited a 2010 study published by healthcare consulting firm Lewin Group, finding CRNAs are less expensive to train and have the potential for providing anesthesia care efficiently; both anesthesiologists and CRNAs can perform the same anesthesia services, and increasing the number of CRNAs will be key to containing costs while maintaining quality of care. 

“We feel encouraged by the thoughtful deliberation that members of the Florida House have given this proposal, and we urge members of the Florida Senate to do the same,” said Valdes. “This change would go a long way in allowing CRNA professionals to deliver quality, safe, and cost-effective anesthesia care to Florida’s patients and reduce costs to both the patient and the state.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.