Six years after news reports and court documents first showed veterans were experiencing significant delays in accessing surgeries and other healthcare in the Veterans Health Administration, a national omnibus survey conducted by Veterans Need Care Now has found that more than one in five (23%) of veteran households still report delays in securing VA health appointments and surgical procedures. Of these delays, 13% were viewed as major problems for veterans and their families.
In 2016, the VA issued a final rule granting three of the four advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) specialties full practice authority, allowing them to practice to the full scope of their education and training, excluding only CRNAs. Since then, reports have continuously highlighted a lack of access to anesthesia services in the VA, which the APRN final rule cited as a reason to revisit the decision to leave CRNAs out. According to the Veterans Need Care now survey, the vast majority (79%) of voters agree that the VA is not giving veterans the timely, quality care they deserve, with 55% agreeing strongly.
Today, more than 1,000 CRNAs, many veterans themselves, serve in the Veterans Health Administration, providing the highest quality care to our nation’s veterans, and nationwide, CRNAs deliver more than 49 million anesthetics each year, and practice in every setting from hospital emergency rooms to ambulatory surgical centers. CRNAs have historically provided much of the anesthesia to our active-duty military in combat arenas since World War I and predominate in veterans’ hospitals and the U.S. Armed Services, where they enjoy full practice authority in every branch of the military.