WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act of 2019. The bipartisan legislation would 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. 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,” Klobuchar said.
“Far too many West Virginians are living with and dying from cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases,” Capito said. “Cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation are shown to reduce the number of deaths from these diseases and improve quality of life, but not nearly enough patients—especially those in rural and underserved areas—are receiving these services. This legislation will allow additional providers to order and supervise these programs sooner, making it easier to ensure patients are able to access the care they need and deserve.”
“The American Association of Nurse Practitioners would like to thank Senators Capito and Klobuchar for introducing the Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act of 2019. Patients who receive cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation have more favorable outcomes – yet federal law limits patient access by not authorizing NPs to order this care for our patients. By removing this barrier for NPs and the patients they serve, we are helping to ensure greater access to the right care at the right time. On behalf of the over 270,000 NPs nationwide, I urge Congress to take swift action on this legislation, so that our patients can receive the cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services they need and without unnecessary delays,” said AANP President, Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, FNP, PNP, FAANP.
“It is critical that women recovering from heart disease have access to cardiac rehabilitation,” said Celina Gorre, CEO of WomenHeart. “Unfortunately, women are less likely to likely to be referred for cardiac rehab and face barriers to enrollment and completion. We are grateful to Senators Capito and Klobuchar for introducing this bill that would take effect right away to address some of those barriers and help many women with heart disease get the treatment they need to recover and to thrive.”
“Significant barriers for Americans with heart disease and stroke were removed in the Bipartisan Budget Act, and this legislation goes further to help patients across the country. Coronary heart disease patients who enroll in cardiac rehabilitation have a 26 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related death and an 18 percent lower risk of readmission at 1-year follow-up compared to those who don’t enroll. Despite these benefits, participation in cardiac rehabilitation programs remains low. We are grateful to Senators Capito and Klobuchar for their continued work to improve the health of patients with cardiovascular disease. This legislation expands upon previous legislative victories to help wipe out the burden of heart disease and stroke in our nation,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown.
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. 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. The Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act builds upon the innovative Improving Access to Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Act—legislation that was passed as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, to authorize physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists to supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation beginning in 2021 instead of 2024.