Exception-al CRNAs: Sometimes the Sole Provider in Rural Areas

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, nurse anesthetists are the oldest nurse specialty group in the United States and have been providing anesthesia care to patients in the United States for more than 150 years. The CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) credential came into existence in 1956.

CRNAs are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural America, enabling health care facilities in these medically underserved areas to offer obstetrical, surgical, pain management and trauma stabilization services. In some states, CRNAs are the sole providers in nearly 100 percent of the rural hospitals.[1]

The services of a non-physician anesthetist (CRNA) generally are paid for by the Part B contractor based on a fee schedule rather than on reasonable cost basis through the cost report.

But for some qualified rural hospitals or Critical Access Hospitals, a request can be made on an annual basis for an exception if the facility employed or contracted with not more than one FTE (2080 hours) non-physician anesthetist. There is also a threshold of 800 or fewer surgical procedures requiring anesthesia services and there can be no professional fee billing for the CRNA.

Tip #33:

Rural and Critical Access hospitals can request an exception to the CRNA Fee schedule if they meet certain criteria (CMS Pub 15-2, Section 4013). Further guidance can be found on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) website:

Provider Reimbursement Manual 15-2, Chapter 40

Questions? Please contact Marie White at 612.253.6546 or mewhite@eidebailly.com.

[1] American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, “Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists Fact Sheet.”