An Open Letter to the CV Team: CV Rehab Legislation

For several years, our ACC worked together with other stakeholder groups and members of Congress to pass legislation that expands access to cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) services by allowing advanced practice clinicians – nurse practitioners, physician assistants and clinical nurse specialists – to supervise cardiac rehab services. This work was done as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. At that time, political budgetary constraints set the date for the expansion in care to 2024. It was a victory, but ACC's work was not done.

Our patients, providers and communities should not be forced to postpone what we know to be high-quality, evidence-based care in order to make the budget math work out on paper. The ACC will not stop fighting for patients, providers and communities until access to care is a reality for today, not just a far-off promise for the future.

House members recently introduced a bipartisan bill, Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act of 2019 (H.R. 3911), which will move that date from 2024 to 2019. The bill will further expand access to cardiac rehab services by allowing advanced practice clinicians to prescribe cardiac rehab in the course of the high-quality care that they already provide to patients as members of the cardiovascular team.

Now, the ACC needs your help to move this legislation from a great bipartisan idea to a great lifesaving bipartisan law. We need you to help us build the list of bipartisan cosponsors for H.R. 3911 by contacting your Representative in Congress. Explain to them that today, your patients need cardiac rehab in order to avoid costly surgeries and hospitalizations, as well as improve their quality of life. Explain to your Representative that today, because of the outdated laws and long waiting period until 2024, your patients cannot get access to the rehab care that they need and your time as an excellent cardiovascular clinician is not being used to its full potential. Tell your member of Congress that they have the power to fix this problem for their constituents by cosponsoring H.R. 3911.

In the short run, this expands access to lifesaving heart care and allows every member of the cardiovascular team to do their job better. In the long term, this bill will help to prevent millions of avoidable hospitalizations and will save billions of dollars of unnecessary health care costs annually.

H.R. 3911 needs grassroots advocacy – our phone calls, personal emails and especially face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and their staff. Take advantage of the Congressional district work period in August to call and meet with your Representative and their district staff. Ask them to be a bipartisan cosponsor of H.R. 3911 so that we can continue providing the highest quality care to all of our patients and communities.

Let your voice be heard and register for ACC's 2019 Legislative Conference, taking place Nov. 3 – 5 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Join hundreds of colleagues and get up to speed on key issues facing cardiology and health care, learn more about ACC's advocacy efforts, and make a direct impact through meetings with members of Congress. Learn more.

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This article was authored by Heather M. Ross, DNP, PhD, chair of the ACC CV Team Advocacy Committee.