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News: Legislative & Advocacy Updates

National Rural Health Association Calls for PA Law Modernization

Friday, June 22, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Melissa Graham
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PAs provide high-quality, cost-effective patient care.

The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has published a policy brief, calling on PA law modernization to improve rural access. 

They recognize that, despite 50 years of high-quality cost-effective practice, there remain state and federal laws and regulations that prevent PAs from practicing to the fullest extent of their education and experience. Likewise, new and emerging models of care sometimes fail to fully recognize PAs, diminishing the value they could bring to rural patients and communities that are currently suffering from a dire shortage of qualified medical care.

"As health care evolves into a system of vertical and horizontal integration with new focus on team-based care, PAs—working at the top of their licenses—will be indispensable providers in rural areas. Modernizing of regulations restricting practice privileges, mental health laws and payer policies that unnecessarily restrict PA practice will increase PA value to employers and enable PAs to more efficiently contribute to ending the shortage of health care professionals accessible to rural patients and communities," the brief states. 

In any case, providing adequate health care services in rural America is a complex challenges and the NRHA states that every type of medical professional who can serve rural communities be considered in workforce analyses and recommendations.

Increased numbers and better distribution of PAs in rural areas can be achieved if practice barriers are removed and reimbursement and incentives payments are appropriate.

To enable PAs to maximize their contribution toward achieving that goal, NRHA offers the following recommendations:

  1. National and state workforce policies should ensure adequate supplies of PAs and other providers to improve access to quality care and to avert anticipated provider shortages.
  2. All new and emerging care models and payment systems should fully recognize PAs as providers of medical services.
  3. Laws and regulations should allow scope of practice details for individual PAs to be decided at the practice level.
  4. PAs should be included in programs to recruit and retain rural providers.
  5. Regulatory and policy updates are needed to remove barriers to optimal PA practice in rural Page 7 communities. Public and private agencies and organizations, including NRHA, should work together to ensure that regulatory changes in publicly funded programs have a positive impact and do not adversely affect access to health care in rural areas.
  6. Public and private payers should adopt standards of transparency and accountability, credentialing and enrolling PAs so that PA performance can be, and further, PAs should be eligible for direct payment from all public and private payers.
  7. Public and private payers should cover mental health care services provided by PAs, which will help to increase access to mental health care for rural patients.
  8. Health care workforce development programs should recognize and support PAs.
  9. State legislatures and regulatory agencies should modernize PA practice laws by removing barriers to optimal team practice and ensure PA representation on regulatory boards.

To read the full policy brief, please visit ruralhealthweb.org or download the report here.