Further, the pain management treatments delivered by CRNAs mitigate the need for far more expensive services, such as ambulance transport to distant healthcare facilities, surgical procedures, or even institutionalization in nursing homes.
In a single year, the cost of pain-management care in the United States exceeds $600 billion. Putting CRNAs out of business will only raise that figure. With healthcare costs spiraling ever upward and threatening to bankrupt public and private payers alike, that makes no sense.
Fortunately, CMS recognizes the importance of preserving patient access to CRNAs. If its draft rule stands, then individual Medicare contractors will not be able to arbitrarily limit patients' ability to seek treatment from nurse anesthetists. That's the right call—for patients and the broader healthcare system.
Christine Zambricki, CRNA, MS, FAAN, is senior director of Federal Affairs Strategies with the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.