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July 5, 2022

Alabama Anesthesia Providers and HB 268: Expanding Access to Care

July 5, 2022

Last month, the Alabama legislature enacted a few significant changes that will affect your anesthesia practice. The wake of changes from Covid-19 continues to ripple down in laws such as these, as they represent efforts to expand access to affordable anesthesia care across the state. For anesthesia providers, this is good news. These changes will greatly increase the capacity of your practice.

About the House Bill 268

Having anesthesia care fall exclusively under the purview of an anesthesiologist was intended to prevent the potentially disastrous consequences of having an untrained provider make a mistake. This meant that certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) were only allowed to administer treatment under the supervision of an anesthesiologist. These CRNAs, however, are providing the same exact treatment that would be provided by an anesthesiologist. In states like Alabama with many rural and underserved areas, CRNAs are a crucial resource to bridge the gap in patient care services. In April 2022, Alabama passed HB 268, legislation that recognizes this fact, and expands CRNAs services to be able to offer anesthesia care while under a physician, podiatrist, or dentist supervision. The legislation defines this supervision as a working relationship in which “each contributes his or her respective expertise in the provision of patient care.” This is a response to the burden of recently increased demand and limited resources on our healthcare workforce.

In addition, HB 268 stipulates that CRNAs can order medication and tests for the patient at any time during anesthesia services. This expansion in job duties will allow the CRNAs on your team to work more independently, expanding your practice’s coverage in care. It is a long-awaited recognition that CRNAs are qualified, based on their education and certifications, to make all decisions regarding anesthesia care, and not just some decisions. 

Check out these articles for more helpful resources for anesthesia providers!

Other Recent Changes

In other Alabama anesthesia changes, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama (BCBSAL) announced that the conversion factor for a preferred medical doctor (PMD) will increase to $65/unit. This is a significant increase that went into effect on April 15th - make sure you’ve adjusted your billing rates and coding accordingly. For more information on other fee schedule changes for 2022, check out our recent blog post. This conversion factor increase also represents the recognition of the crucial services PMDs are providing across the state. 

Alabama has an underserved patient population, with critical care areas covering large swathes of the state. There’s only so much support that an anesthesia team can provide when they are limited by the anesthesiologist’s schedule. House Bill 268 aims to ease the burden by allowing CRNAs to administer the same services in coordination with a supervising physician. 

As your capacity increases, this provides an opportunity to strengthen your revenue cycle. Our experts at Medical Business Management can take one more to-do off your list by providing accurate anesthesia billing and medical coding to maximize your cash flow. 

Contact us here to learn more! 

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