New Mexico became the sixth state to opt out of a federal requirement that nurse anesthetists work under the direct supervision of physicians to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and New Hampshire also have done so. Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ruled earlier this year that federal regulations require physician supervision of nurse anesthetists, it said governors could opt out of the requirement after consulting with the state boards of medicine and nursing. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists hailed New Mexico's decision and cited a 1999 Institute of Medicine Report that said certified nurse anesthetists administer approximately 65% of anesthetics in the U.S., where such care is about 50 times safer than it was two decades ago. The American Society of Anesthesiologists, which is lobbying to maintain the direct-supervision requirement, cited a 2-year-old study that the society said showed there were 25 more deaths per 10,000 surgery patients in cases in which an anesthesiologist did not supervise care. -- by Michael Romano
N.M. waives supervision for nurse anesthetists
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