Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., introduced Friday, Nov. 15, the Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act of 2019.

According to a news release, the bipartisan legislation is intended to expand and expedite access to cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services by authorizing physician assistants, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists to order cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation under Medicare and begin supervising this care in 2021.

“Ensuring timely access to cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs is critical to improving the lives of people who need cardiovascular care,” Klobuchar stated in the release. “Our new legislation will expand on my Improving Access to Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Act that was signed into law last year to allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists to supervise these rehabilitation programs three years earlier and also order these services, helping more patients get the care they need.”

Cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation are medically directed and supervised programs designed to improve a patient’s physical, psychological and social functioning. Currently, only physicians are authorized to order and supervise cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation for Medicare patients. According to Klobuchar’s office, this restriction can create unnecessary obstacles, delays, and paperwork before patients can receive the rehabilitation services that are needed on a timely basis and make it challenging for programs to operate in areas where physicians are scarce.