CMS proposal for interventional pain management by nurse anesthetists: evidence by proclamation with poor prognosis

Pain Physician. Sep-Oct 2012;15(5):E641-64.


The Office of Inspector General (OIG), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in a 2009 report, showed that unqualified nonphysicians performed 21% of the services. These nonphysicians did not possess the necessary licenses, certifications, credentials, or training to perform the services. Since the time the medical profession was founded, advances in treatments and technology, as well as educational and training standards, have promoted a desire to go beyond the basic scope of practice. Many have sought to broaden the scope of practice through legislative efforts and proclamation rather than education and training. In 2001, President Clinton signed into law a rule that permitted states to "opt out" of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) requirement for nurse anesthetists to be supervised by any physician. Since then, 17 states have adopted this rule. While it was originally intended to help rural areas improve access to care, the opt out rule essentially supports any hospital or organization that seeks to make a profit or cut costs by allowing nurse anesthetists to function as physicians. With the implementation of sweeping health care regulations under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also popularly known as Obamacare), the future of nurses and other professionals has been empowered. In fact, it has been proposed that medical training may be reduced by 30%, which will in their minds equalize training between nonphysicians and physicians. In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an opinion exerting their power to empower CRNAs with unlimited practice, with threats to opposing parties. In the 2013 proposed physician payment rule, CMS is proposing that CRNAs may perform interventional pain management services. Interventional pain management is a medical discipline with defined interventional techniques to be performed by professionals who are well trained and qualified. Without considering the consequences of the lack of education and training qualifications for CRNAs to offer interventional techniques, the FTC issued their opinion and CMS proposed to expand these practice patterns with a policy of improved access and reduced cost. However, in reality, the opposite will happen and will increase fraud, reduce access due to inappropriate procedures, and increase complications, all as a result of privileges by legislation without education. The CMS proposal for interventional pain management by nurse anesthetists is a proclamation with a poor prognosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Medicaid / economics
  • Nurse Anesthetists* / economics
  • Pain Management*
  • Pain* / epidemiology
  • Physicians / economics
  • United States