Menu Close

The Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act (H.R. 6087), was passed in the House of Representatives on a strong bipartisan basis.

Reps. Courtney and Walberg introduced H.R. 6087 in December 2021 to amend the existing Federal Employees Compensation Act, or FECA – the workers’ compensation program for the vast majority of U.S. federal employees – to allow injured workers to receive treatment for work related injuries from state-licensed Physician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs).

PAs and NPs are increasingly taking on the role of primary care providers for many patients, but current law prohibits federal workers from being treated by PAs and NPs for worker compensation cases, even in states that allow PAs and NPs to practice independently.

Courtney and Walberg’s bipartisan bill earned the support of organizations representing both health care providers and federal employees nationwide, like the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the American Association of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU).

The bill would make a simple but important correction to FECA, enabling PAs and NPs to be compensated for care through the program, expanding access to health care for federal workers and providing a boost to the health of America’s labor force. The Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act was passed by the House by a vote of 325-83.

The federal government is the largest employer in the nation, and FECA provides federal employees with work-related disability and medical benefits, as well as survivors benefits to the families of employees killed on the job.

In 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319) created a presumption of FECA eligibility for cases of COVID-19, an important piece of the puzzle in ensuring that a large swath of America’s workers would be covered, cared for, and able to return work in the event they contracted COVID-19.

However, although many federal employees rely on PAs and NPs as their primary care providers, current law prohibits them from being reimbursed for caring for FECA patients within their state scope of practice, and from providing medical evidence to support a FECA benefit claim.

However, in California the bill seems to have triggered a turf war with the California Medical Association.

On June 6 it published an “URGENT!” message on It’s website claiming “Congress is rushing to push through a bill that recklessly expands scope of practice at the federal level.

It went on to claim that “If passed, this bill would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to diagnose, prescribe, treat, and certify an injury and extent of disability for purposes of compensating federal workers under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. To take this function away from physicians who have the proper education, training, and expertise to make these evaluations is a threat to the practice of medicine and quite simply, unacceptable.”

And the American Medical Association also voiced opposition. “H.R. 6087 effectively removes physicians from the care team and sets up our federal workers for suboptimal health outcomes and increased costs,” AMA CEO James Madara wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, urging them to oppose the bill.

The proposed law will now move to the Senate, and if passed will need the approval of President Biden.