Without CRNAs, many Medicare beneficiaries would have to travel inordinate distances to seek care, move into institutions such as nursing homes, or―worst of all―go without treatment.
Already, America faces a crisis in access to adequate pain care. According to a recent study from the Institute of Medicine, regulatory, legal, institutional, financial, and geographical barriers prevent patients from receiving adequate pain care.
The Medicare contractors' decision only makes things worse.
Americans have made it clear that they aren't pleased with this state of affairs. According to a new survey from The Mellman Group, a polling firm, 87 percent of Americans support Medicare continuing to reimburse CRNAs.
Another 85 percent indicate that they believe it's important that patients be able to see a nurse anesthetist or other health professional of their choosing. And four in five Americans have stated that they are or would be very comfortable with a referral to a CRNA for pain treatment.
CRNAs aren't just crucial to the national drive to expand access to care. They also help trim overall health costs. A 2010 study in the Journal of Nursing Economic$ found that CRNAs working alone are 25 percent more cost-effective at delivering anesthesia than any other model.