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Press Release

Improvements to PA Practice Laws Sweep States, Increase Access to Care

Improved PA Practice Laws Sweep 42 States and the District of Columbia to Help Bridge Healthcare Gap, According to AAPA

PR Newswire

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As millions of new patients enter the U.S. healthcare system under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), state lawmakers are working quickly to modernize physician assistant (PA) practice laws in an effort to increase access to quality healthcare and reduce patient wait times.

The American Academy of Physician Assistants reports that in 2013 42 states and the District of Columbia removed unnecessary legislative barriers to healthcare by improving the ability of PAs to practice medicine to the full extent of their education and experience.

Additional legislation in the works this year can continue the sea change of support for the PA profession. These bills provide other improvements to PA practice not listed above, and there are several other states modernizing PA practice in other ways.

  • In Michigan, Senate Bill 568 updates key sections of the state's public health code and creates a patient care board of medical providers, which includes PAs. The bill modernizes how medicine is regulated in the state and focuses on a patient-centered model of care.
  • New Jersey Assembly Bill 1950 authorizes a PA's scope of practice to be determined at the clinical setting, between physicians and PAs, and modernizes licensure requirements.
  • A collaborative effort in West Virginia between the state Board of Medicine, West Virginia Association of PAs and AAPA has resulted in the introduction of House Bill 4289. The bill was a year in the making and seeks to clarify the definition of PAs by making it clear that they practice medicine. It also increases the number of PAs with whom a physician may practice from three to five.

AAPA President Lawrence Herman, PA-C, MPA, DFAAPA, is available for interviews to discuss how state and federal lawmakers are removing regulatory barriers to PA scope of practice, along with the VA's recent directive designed to enhance PA utilization.

WHEN: Telephone interviews are available per request. To schedule an interview, please contact Patrick Dunne at 571-319-4394 or Matt Forke at 202-248-5484.

WHY: PAs increase access to high-quality healthcare—and in many rural or underserved areas, they are already the main primary care provider. Approximately 30 percent of PAs work in primary care. Similar to physicians, PAs practice medicine, including conducting physical exams, diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering/interpreting lab tests, performing procedures, providing counseling/education and prescribing medications. The PA profession is booming: More than 7,000 new PAs graduate annually from 181 accredited programs. PAs were named one of three primary care providers under the ACA, and they were recently recognized by the World Health Organization for their delivery of high-quality care.

ABOUT PAs: PAs practice medicine in every medical and surgical specialty and setting, and collaborate with physicians and all members of the healthcare team. The PA educational program is modeled on the medical school curriculum, a combination of classroom and clinical instruction that includes more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations beyond classroom education. PAs are educated at the graduate level, often side-by-side with physicians. They hold master's degrees, are nationally certified and are state licensed to practice medicine through boards of medicine. All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow PAs to practice and prescribe medications. PAs have to recertify every 10 years and complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years. And PAs can specialize in a wide variety of areas, including emergency medicine, primary care, surgery, oncology, psychiatry, radiology, pediatrics and more. 

For more information, contact Patrick Dunne at 571-319-4394 or  

About the American Academy of Physician Assistants
Founded in 1968, the American Academy of Physician Assistants is the national professional society for PAs. It represents a profession of more than 95,000 certified PAs across all medical and surgical specialties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the majority of the U.S. territories and within the uniformed services. AAPA advocates and educates on behalf of the profession and the patients PAs serve. It works to ensure the professional growth, personal excellence and recognition of PAs and to enhance their ability to improve the quality, accessibility and cost-effectiveness of patient-centered healthcare. Visit and to learn more. 

SOURCE American Academy of Physician Assistants

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