The Federal Trade Commission staff has submitted a comment to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in response to its request for comment on its Interim Final Rule titled Authority of VA Professionals to Practice Health Care.
The comment supports the Rule, which confirms the VA’s current practice of allowing licensed VA health care professionals to deliver health care services in a state other than the health care professional’s state of licensure, and also confirms the VA’s authority to establish national standards of practice for health care professionals in all VA medical facilities. As the comment explains, the COVID-19 public health emergency, for which the VA has had to rapidly deploy licensed health care professionals to locations where they may not be licensed, has highlighted the need for this regulatory preemption. By improving access to care, avoiding delays in care, and potentially improving outcomes, the Rule benefits veterans, especially those at underserved locations and other locations without sufficient staff to meet veterans’ needs.
Additionally, the comment points out that the COVID-19 emergency, during which all states have had to take emergency action to temporarily reduce licensure barriers for out-of-state health care licensees, has underscored the limitations of current portability initiatives, which do not cover all health professions and have not yet been adopted nationwide. To address these limitations, the comment encourages the development and state adoption of portability initiatives, particularly those that maximize ease of interstate practice, but notes that some forms of federal encouragement or preemption may be necessary and appropriate to achieve nationwide license portability and standards of practice.
The Commission vote approving the comment to the Department of Veterans Affairs was 3-2. Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine S. Wilson issued a concurring statement. Commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter voted no and issued dissenting statements.
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