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House passes bill to expand treatment providers for federal workers

U.S. Capitol

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bipartisan bill that would expand health care provider options for injured federal workers.

The House voted 325-83 to send H.R. 6087 to the Senate.

The bill would expand the roles of nurse practitioners and physician assistants treating workers covered by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. Currently, FECA allows only licensed physicians to treat injured workers.

HR 6087, sponsored by Reps. Jim Courtney, D-Conn., and Tim Walberg, R-Mich., would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants acting within the scope of their practice to prescribe or recommend treatment to injured workers, certify the nature of an injury and probable extent of disability, provide prescribed treatments for injured workers, and participate with a Department of Labor designated physician in a mandatory work comp examination of an injured worker.

Mr. Walberg, speaking on the house floor, stressed that the bill would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to care for injured federal workers “so long as that care is within their scope of practice under state law.”

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., said that while some states allow nurse practitioners to treat injured workers, he had “concerns” about whether that was appropriate at the federal level. He said injured federal employees “deserve the highest levels of care, the highest level of evaluation.”

The American Medical Association in a letter to lawmakers said the bill would effectively remove physicians from the care team and set up federal workers “for suboptimal health outcomes and increased costs, without improving access to care.”

WorkCompCentral is a sister publication of Business Insurance. More stories here.