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House passes bill to expand treatment providers to federal workers

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 HR 6087 to the Senate.

The bill would expand the roles of nurse practitioners and physician assistants who treat workers covered by the Federal Employees Compensation Act. Currently, FECA only allows 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 for injured workers, certify the nature of an injury and the likely extent of disability, provide prescribed treatment to injured workers, and participate with a physician designated by the Ministry of Labor in a mandatory examination of an injured worker’s work.

Mr. Walberg, speaking from the house floor, pointed out that the bill would allow nurse practitioners and medical assistants to care for injured federal workers “as long as such care is within their scope of practice in under state law”.

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., said while some states allow nurse practitioners to care for injured workers, he has “concerns” about whether it’s 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 doctors from the care team and put in federal workers “for suboptimal health outcomes and increased costs, without improving access to care”.

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