More healthcare specialists would be permitted sooner to order cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation for Medicare patients under bipartisan legislation proposed on Nov. 13 by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

The Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act of 2019, S. 2842, was sponsored by Sen. Capito and cosponsor U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). It would allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists, along with currently authorized physicians, to supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation for Medicare patients beginning in 2021, rather than waiting until 2024 as provided for under a 2018 law, according to a one-page summary of the bill provided by Sen. Capito’s office.

“This legislation will allow additional providers to order and supervise these programs sooner, making it easier to ensure patients are able to access the care they need and deserve,” Sen. Capito said.

Currently, only physicians are authorized to order and supervise cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation for Medicare patients, according to the lawmaker.

“Far too many West Virginians are living with and dying from cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases,” said Sen. Capito. “Cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation are shown to reduce the number of deaths from these diseases and improve quality of life, but not nearly enough patients — especially those in rural and underserved areas — are receiving these services.”

Numerous organizations have endorsed the proposed legislation, including the American Association for Respiratory Care, the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American Heart Association, the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, and WomenHeart.

The same-named H.R. 3911 was introduced in July by U.S. Reps. Adrian Smith (R-NE) and John Lewis (D-GA).

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