New Legislation Proposes Expanded Access to Cardiovascular Rehab Services

New legislation introduced yesterday in Congress – a result of joint efforts between the ACC, the American Heart Association, and others – will take an important step towards addressing heart disease in the United States. The Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act of 2019, introduced by Representatives John Lewis (D-GA) and Adrian Smith (R-NE), expands patient access to important cardiovascular rehabilitation services, which have been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease related death and hospital readmissions.

This legislation builds upon the success of the Improving Access to Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Act of 2018, which enabled advanced practice providers (APPs) to supervise cardiac rehabilitation services under Medicare beginning in 2024. The Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act of 2019 ensures that APPs are able to order and refer for these services, and moves up the start date for direct supervision of cardiac rehabilitation beginning in 2019 – five years earlier than under current law.

Under current Federal law, only physicians are authorized to certify the need for or order cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation for Medicare patients. Qualified nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and clinical nurse specialists are often authorized to perform such services under state law. Expanding access directly benefits patients, as those who take part in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services are at a lower risk of both heart disease-related mortality and readmissions following cardiac events, such as a heart attack.

"The ACC proudly supports the Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act of 2019, which will expand patient access to cardiac rehabilitation services. The ACC has previously supported successful legislation to allow advanced practice providers to supervise cardiac rehabilitation services. Expanding on that effort and enabling advanced practice providers to refer patients to this essential service is necessary to reducing the impact of heart disease in the U.S.," says ACC President Richard J. Kovacs, MD, FACC.

Keywords: ACC Advocacy, Cardiac Rehabilitation, American Heart Association, Patient Readmission, Nurse Clinicians, Myocardial Infarction, Medicare, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners


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