What Political Issues Are Physician Assistants Facing?

What PAs Need to Know: An Update from the March 2019 AAPA Leadership Advocacy Summit in Washington DC

Do you know what issues Physician Assistants are facing right now? Are you aware of what bills AAPA is supporting or what topics are being discussed? If not, you aren’t alone! Many PAs find themselves too busy to follow along with what is going on in our profession. Each State PA Association has its own unique issues that representatives lobby for, but there are also some bills being introduced we should be aware of and support. It helps to be able to speak about these topics, so Amy Reeves was kind enough to share an update on what was discussed at the Leadership Advocacy Summit in March 2019. This was hosted in Washington DC by AAPA and is a quick synopsis of what was discussed.

If you are a busy PA and want to get updates, without going to the website all the time, check out the end of the post, where I’ll show you how to be notified of these bills’ status and stay up to date.

An Update From Amy Reeves, PA-C

Left to right: Kathy Kremle, PA-C; Donna Naranjo, PA-C; Negin Bauer, PA-C; Amy Reeves, PA-C; Stephen Benton, PA-C; at the office of US Senator from Georgia, Johnny Isakson

Five PAs from Georgia, Negin Bauer, Stephen Benton, Kathy Kremle, Donna Naranjo, and Amy Reeves, attended the leadership advocacy summit hosted by AAPA in Washington DC in March of 2019. This conference provided an understanding of current issues facing our profession and how to make a positive change.

We met with congressmen and staff asking for co-sponsorship on these two bills. In all, there were 250 PAs meeting on Capitol Hill.

Medicare Direct Payment (S.596/HR 1052)

PAs are the only health providers who are authorized to bill Medicare for our services that are NOT able to receive direct payment.
Medicare permits all other health professionals-physicians, advanced practice nurses, physical therapists, psychologists, podiatrists, social workers, and others to receive direct payment under their own name and NPI number. For PAs, Medicare payment is currently required to go to an employer.

The inability to be directly paid often leads to increased administrative burdens for hospitals, medical groups and health care organizations utilizing PAs when the facility does not have a traditional employer/employee relationship with medical provers at the facility.
The PA profession is one of the fastest growing professions according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The profession is expected to grow 37% by 2026 and become and even more integral part of the solution to providing access to quality health care. Unnecessary restrictions related to Medicare reimbursement, such as the lack of direct payment, will hinder the Medicare program’s ability to provide needed care to the seniors and disabled.

Having this Medicare statute updated would have major gains for PAs.

Allowing PAs to Order Diabetic Shoes (S237/HR 808) Yes, really!

The second bill we asked for co-sponsorship on was to be able to order diabetic shoes (S237/HR 808). PAs can manage every other aspect of care for a diabetic but can’t order shoes. Additional costs of seeing another provider could be avoided if PAs could write for these.

Since March 14, fourteen congressmen have added their co-sponsorship to the diabetic shoe bill and three to the direct pay bill. Unfortunately Georgia congressmen are not co-sponsors at this time. 

You can check the co-sponsorship status of our priority bills any time by going to AAPA’s Advocacy Action Center’s bill tracker .  Additionally, you can find resources on meeting with legislators at home on our AAPA’s Grassroots web page, https://www.aapa.org/advocacy-central/grassroots-advocacy/resources/

Thanks to Amy for sharing this information! I know it’s tough to stay on top of all the local, state, and national issues, but it’s important!


Bonus: How to Stay Updated on current legislation!

It’s easy! Go to Congress.gov, find your bill and click on the “get alerts” link. You’ll have to create an account, but it’s all free! Enjoy!

Physician Assistant, Owner and Blogger at EmpoweredPAs.com. Currently practicing in a Pediatric Emergency Department, overseeing and developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines with teams of amazing people, supporting and mentoring Pre-PA and PA Students, with a hope to advance our profession and give PAs the tools and resouces they need to advance their careers.