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2020 NOVA Legislative Roundtable

Posted By Nancy Claflin DNP MS RN NEA-BC CENP CCRN-K CPHQ FNAHQ NOVA Nurse Emeritus, Thursday, March 19, 2020


NOVA’s 26th Annual Legislative Roundtable

NOVA’s 26th Annual Legislative Roundtable was held Friday, March 6, 2020 at DAV Headquarters in Washington, DC.  Participants were welcomed by Kelly Skinner, DNP, APRN, NP-C, GNP-BC, CRRN, WCC, CFCN, NOVA President. Michelle Salazar, RN, BSN, NOVA’s Legislative Co-Chair, presented NOVA’s legislative agenda, followed by presentations from staff from the Office of Nursing Services (ONS) in the Department of Veterans Affairs, representatives from Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), national nursing organizations, and Congressional legislative staff members.  The following topics were discussed:

  • Ensuring adequate budget for VA providing critical funding for VISNS and Medical Centers; support the Independent Budget 

  • Optimizing VA resources to affect and achieve value in models of care

  • Supporting appropriate funding for Community Care

  • Maximizing Veteran access to care through effective use of technology, efficient clinical practice, and role enhancement for nursing personnel

  • Monitoring implementation of VA Mission Act and Community Care Network

  • Requiring training, competency, and quality standards for Community Care Network providers equal that for VHA providers

  • Implementing care coordination system allowing Veterans to easily return to VA when resources are available

  • Enhancing women Veterans’ care, including providers, and benefits

  • Ensuring VA spaces are safe for women

  • Improving access to mental health care and addressing suicide prevention

  • Improving Post 9/11 GI Bill

  • Supporting use of cannabis for Veterans

  • Supporting pain management for Veterans

  • Ensuring Veterans exposed to toxic substances receive care and benefits

  • Ensuring access to opioids for Veterans who need it

  • Improving access

  • Ensuring staffing levels affecting community care referrals and coordination are met

  • Monitoring caregiver expansion

  • Promoting and addressing social determinants of health

  • Providing safe staffing 

  • Elimination of mandatory overtime

  • Monitoring VA’s staffing as the backup to national emergencies

  • Ensuring legislation to support critical patient safety updates

  • Monitoring proposed changes in telehealth legislation

  • Monitoring VHA’s electronic health record and ensuring that both Veterans and staff members are being heard

  • Championing palliative care

  • Ensuring implementation of Full Practice Authority for Advanced Practice Nurses

  • Removing barriers for Advanced Practice Nurses to certify patient eligibility for home health services, as well as cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services

  • Monitoring identification of sex trafficking

  • Increasing diversity in nursing

  • Fostering interprofessional collaboration

  • Updating qualification standards for advanced practice registered nurses

  • Implementing full practice authority for CRNAs

  • Providing funding for education for all APRNs similar to providers

  • Providing necessary resources to combat Corona virus

  • Monitoring modernization and restructuring of VHA, including connection of policy and operations

  • Providing ongoing training for VHA personnel and community providers to improve coordination of care, decreasing fragmentation of care, understanding of military culture, and healthcare needs across all VISNs

  • Improving custodial assistance in VA facilities to free nurses from cleaning responsibilities

  • Support Title VIII funding providing stable, sufficient funding for nurse education programs

  • Expanding VANAP programs to train more students in VA facilities

  • Recruiting and retaining a highly qualified nursing workforce with appropriate budget to support modern staffing models

  • Offering career advancement and growth opportunities for all levels of nursing within VA to retain a highly qualified workforce

  • Ensuring Human Resources (HR) has essential staff to review and streamline policies and procedures to improve efficiency and speed of the hiring process

  • Mandating training for all HR personnel on use of Locality Pay, and Congressional authorizations to improve hiring process

  • Monitoring HR centralization at the VISN level

  • Monitoring VA’s use of hiring authorities

  • Increasing salary caps and supporting competitive wages for all levels of nursing

  • Giving back collective bargaining rights

  • Lengthening timeline for giving second chances due to minor mistakes

Congressional legislative staff members attending included Shauna Rust, Policy Assistant, Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs; Christine Hill, Minority Staff Director, Subcommittee on Health, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs; Sara Dean, Majority Professional Staff Member, Subcommittee on Health, House Veterans Affairs Committee; and Heather O’Beirne Kelly, Majority Professional Staff Member, Subcommittee on Health, House Veterans Affairs Committee. Representatives from Veterans Service Organizations included Marquis Barefield, Assistant National Legislative Director, Disabled American Veterans; Heather Ansley, Paralyzed Veterans of America; Travis Horr, Director of Government Relations, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; and Rene Campos, CDR, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Senior Director, Government Relations, Military Officers Association of America.

Staff from the VA Office of Nursing Services included Beth Taylor, DHA, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer and Karen Ott, DNP, RN, Director for Policy and Legislation.  Representatives from professional nursing organizations included Peter Kallio, President, Association of VA Nurse Anesthetists; Diane Boettger, MHS, APRN, CRNA, Executive Director, Association of VA Nurse Anesthetists; Matthew Thackston, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists; Elliott Vice, Director, Government Affairs, National Council of State Boards of Nursing; Sam Hewitt, Senior Associate Director, Policy & Government Relations, American Nurses Association; Clare Chmiel, Senior Government Affairs, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association; Claudio Gualtieri, JD, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor, Center to Champion Nursing in America/AARP; Tamara Borchardt, DNP,  WHNP-BC, Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health; Jo Ann Webb, RN, MHA, FAAN, Vice President, Federal Relations and Policy, American Organization of Nursing Leadership; Frank Purcell, Representative, Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses; Colleen Leners, DNP, APRN, Director of Policy, American Association of Colleges of Nursing; Diane Padden, PhD, CRNP, FAANP, American Association of Nurse Practitioners; Alec Stone, Public Affairs Director, Oncology Nursing Society; and Dave Mason, Federal Policy Consultant, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. Marilyn Park represented the American Federation of Government Employees.

NOVA members included Board of Directors members President Kelly Skinner, DNP, APRN, NP-C, GNP-BC, CRRN, WCC, CFCN; President-Elect Taryn-Janae Wilcox-Olson, MHS, RN; Secretary/Treasurer Ruth Holmes, MSA, BSN, RN; Past President Thelma Roach-Serry, BSN, RN, NE-BC; Director and Co-Chair Legislative Committee Michelle Salazar, RN, BSN; Director Catherine Giasson, DNP, MHA, RN, NE-BC; Director Ernestine Goode, MSA, BSN, RN, CRRN, CBIS; Director Theresa Presley, MSN, RN, CNL, CCRN; Director Yvette Twum-Danso, RN, MSN, CCRN, PhD(c); Director Betty Ogren, LPN; Past President Cecilia McVey RN, MHA, FAAN.  Also attending were Past Presidents/Nurse Emeritus Nancy Claflin, DNP, MS, RN, NEA-BC, CENP, CCRN-K, CPHQ, FNAHQ; Margaret Kruckemeyer, MSN, ARNP-C; Nurse Emeritus Beverly Ross; and NOVA Legislative Committee members Grace Conley, Vanessa Coronel, Raquell Garrett, and Steven Powell; NOVA members Sherry Clement, , Pandolla Hicks, Alma Holley, Alma Houlditch, Ashley Jones, Agnes Kaje, , Stella Lebrun, Leticia Mickens, Martha Moreno, Theresa Presley, Faith Santiago, Michella Savoy-Carter. NOVA Executive Director Deb Dupnik and Teresa Morris, Director, Advocacy and Government Relations also attended.

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