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News & Press: Advocacy and Policy

Latest Issue of WOCN Society In Action--Public Policy & Advocacy Newsletter

Tuesday, December 18, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Becky Carroll
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The WOCN® Society In Action is a members-only public policy and advocacy newsletter that highlights the most pressing issues related to the WOC practice and the Society's advocacy efforts.
Lymphedema Treatment Act
In order to help ensure passage of this important legislation, please look for a grassroots advocacy message from the WOCN Society asking Congress to move the bill. The Lymphedema Treatment Act (H.R. 930 / S. 497) would amend Medicare statute to pay for compression garments, bandages and supplies to reduce lymphedema-related swelling and prevent recurrence. The bill has added 366 co-sponsors in the House and 61 co-sponsors in the Senate. With the overwhelming support from a majority of members of Congress we are hopeful that the legislation will find a path to passage before the end of the calendar year. The WOCN Society drafted a letter, which was sent from the Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders asking Congress to pass the Lymphedema Treatment Act this session of Congress. In addition, the Society recently signed onto an additional letter urging Congress to pass the bill.

As you may know, compression therapy is considered the gold standard for the treatment of lymphedema and the treatment and prevention of venous leg ulcers (VLUs), also known as stasis ulcers. The Society strongly supports the Lymphedema Treatment Act reflects the vision and core tenets of the WOCN Society as a means to support cost-effective, evidence-based prevention and treatment of complex wound conditions such as VLUs and lymphedema.
Medicare Competitive Bidding
As you may recall, President Obama released his proposed FY-17 budget in March 2016--a provision to expand Medicare’s Competitive Bidding (CB) program to new product categories. The budget proposed that inhalation drugs, all prosthetic and orthotics, and ostomy, tracheostomy and urological supplies be listed as products subjected to CB. The WOCN Society has expressed serious concerns with this proposal, as ostomy supplies and urological supplies are not well-suited for a competitive bid program because of their highly customizable nature. The Society has fought to exclude these products from the program in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

To date, the Trump Administration has not continued to pursue the expansion of the CB program. However, the Medicare Payment and Advisory Committee (MEDPAC), which serves as an advisory body to Congress on Medicare policy, did include comments on the CB program in their June report to Congress. The report did recommend to Congress that they expand the CB program to additional categories, possibly including ostomy, tracheostomy, and urological supplies, as they noted outlier payment rates in these groups when compared to private payers. While this would be a troubling development, keep in mind that the panel only serves in an advisory capacity and cannot change policy. It would take new legislation from Congress in order to include ostomy, tracheostomy and urological supplies in the CB program.

The Society has created an evidence-based policy paper, which focuses on the impact of CB and access to care and supplies that will be ready for use if the CB program does move forward.
Palliative Nursing Summit
The WOCN Society has partnered with other nursing organizations to pursue joint initiatives in palliative nursing organized by the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA). The objective of the Palliative Nursing Summit was to develop a collaborative framework for nursing practice across nursing specialties related to three key areas of primary palliative care: communication and advance care planning, transitions and coordination of care in pain and symptom management. The goal was to enhance patients' access to palliative care whenever or wherever they needed it. Twenty-seven nursing specialty organizations, representing over 600,000 members, participated in the event. Carolyn Watts, MSN, RN, CWOCN, is representing the Society in this initiative. Following the development of the Palliative Nursing Summit Summary Report , two project teams were created; with one addressing the nurses' role in advance care planning and the other focusing on pain and symptom management, especially issues related to the opioid crisis. All nursing organizations who participated in the summit were invited to continue to collaborate on these two teams.

Related Achievements
The following are achievements by participating organizations at the Palliative Nursing Summit who support at least one of the three focus areas, or from other organizations about the topics discussed. If your organization has completed projects or initiatives to add to this list, please contact us.
Key Summit Documents and Resources
Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders
In addition to the efforts taken on by the WOCN Society, we have also enjoyed success through our membership in the Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders (The Alliance). The Alliance is a nonprofit multidisciplinary trade association of physician medical specialty societies and clinical associations whose mission is to promote quality care and access to products and services for people with wounds through effective advocacy and educational outreach in the regulatory, legislative and public arenas. Through the Alliance, the Society is able to comment and follow government regulations on multiple fronts and directly impact policy decisions. All comments and letters can be found here.
The Nursing Community Coalition
The WOCN Society is a member of the Nursing Community Coalition, which consists of 58 national nursing organizations committed to improving the health and health care of our nation by collaborating to support Registered Nurses (RNs) and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). Collectively, the Nursing Community Coalition represents over one million RNs, APRNs, nurse researchers, nurse faculty and nursing students. In the past quarter, the Nursing Community Coalition has provided comments and updates on the following issues:
 
Nursing Community Coalition Sends Letter to VA Secretary Wilkie
(August 30, 2018)
Forty-four organizations signed on to a letter welcoming Robert Wilkie as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The letter also includes language surrounding the coalition’s position on the recent VA rule which allows APRNs to practice to the full extent of their education and clinical training which excluded certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). The coalition hopes to work with the VA to change this rule to give CRNAs parity with the other APRN groups and allow them to provide care within VA facilities to the full extent of their clinical training. Read the full letter here.
 
Nursing Community Coalition Sends Letter to HHS Secretary Azar
(August 29, 2018)
The Nursing Community Coalition sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar applauding his remarks on the need to examine scope of practice laws in order to evaluate state and local regulations that restrict APRN practice authority. The letter additionally requested a meeting with officials from HHS to discuss scope of practice issues further. Read the full letter here.
 
Nursing Community Coalition Sends Request to Senate Leaders on Opioid Package
(August 24, 2018)
Forty-six organizations signed on to a letter urging for the inclusion of Section 3003, Allowing for More Flexibility with Respect to Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders, of the House-passed SUPPORT for Families and Communities Act (H.R. 6), in any final Senate opioid package. Section 3003 of H.R. 6 provides a permanent authorization for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe Medication-Assisted Treatments (MATs) to those suffering from opioid addictions and creates a five-year authorization for the other three APRN groups (certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists) to do the same. Read the full letter here.
 
Nursing Community Coalition Thanks Senators for Amendment that Would Increase Funding for Title VIII
(August 24, 2018)
The Nursing Community Coalition thanked Senator Merkley for introducing an amendment to the Senate LHHS-ED Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2019 that would increase spending for the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs. Senators Duckworth, Booker, Menendez, Kaine, and Van Hollen were also thanked for their support and commitment to advancing nursing education. Read the full letter here.

Additional information on these issues can be found here.
United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA)
The WOCN Society continues to expand its partnerships with patient groups on areas of interest with regard to public policy and outreach. The WOCN Society participated in an initiative with the Access & Care Coalition as part of a task force addressing issues presented by consumers regarding access to supplies in the venue of Home Health. An educational information piece was developed for Home Health Agencies that do not have the guidance of a certified ostomy nurse. Some recent action includes work with the UOAA on reduced access to patient supplies under current CMS home health billing policies that could result in limiting patient access to ostomy supplies. In addition, the Society is working with the UOAA on patient and provider education initiatives to help ensure ostomy patients are getting quality care despite not having access to a WOC nurse.
If you have questions regarding any of these issues, please contact:
Chris Rorick, MPH
Director of Government Relations
+1 202-508-6354
Kate Lawrence, MSN, RN, CWOCN
WOCN Public Policy Coordinator

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