The American College of Radiology® (ACR®) has urged the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to rescind its interim final rule (IFR) addressing the VA’s asserted authority related to the scope of practice of its health care employees. VA’s IFR affirmed "VA's current practice of allowing VA health care professionals to practice across state lines “in accordance with the scope and requirements of their VA employment, regardless of conflicting state requirements” and “VA's authority to establish national standards of practice for healthcare professionals which will standardize a health care professional's practice in all VA medical facilities."
In comments submitted to the docket, the ACR noted that the IFR sets the stage for allowing VA to institute highly controversial new national practice standards via sub-regulatory guidance, thereby bypassing the transparency, meaningful public participation and public accountability safeguards afforded by the Administrative Procedures Act. Concern was raised that the national practice standards envisioned by the IFR would undermine the integrity of physician-led health care teams, resulting in a two-tiered system whereby veterans are denied the same level of high quality physician-led health care that they could otherwise receive in the public sector.
ACR comments also raised concern that the IFR undermines states’ authority to establish standards and oversee the qualifications, performance and professional conduct of health care practitioners within the state’s jurisdiction. “By overriding state scope of practice laws, the IFR undermines the ability of state health profession boards to adequately regulate NPPs’ practice, creating gaps in oversight and discipline.”
In addition to submitting its own comments, the ACR is also a signatory to comments submitted by AMA on behalf of itself and nearly 90 physician organizations opposing the IFR. The ACR will continue to monitor the situation and will diligently advocate for veteran access to the high quality physician-led, patient centered care they deserve.