Grant PAs Full Practice Authority to function as Licensed Independent Practitioners in Federal Jurisdictions
The PA profession was born over 50 years ago under similar circumstances to those we face today - healthcare provider shortages across the United States and patient demands for care rapidly outpacing the supply. Uniformed service members returning from Vietnam were already battle-hardened and tested, and had valuable medical skills to more rapidly translate into clinical practice at home. Since then PAs have become a highly trusted healthcare provider known to improve the quality of care, reduce cost, and expand access to healthcare - often in rural and underserved areas.
All PAs graduate with over 2,000 clinical hours and a Master’s or Doctorate degree, in addition to their program learning and clinical content. PAs practice medicine in all specialty areas, all US states and territories, all branches of military service, and have been deeply integrated within the White House medical staff for decades. Further - the Veteran’s Health Administration is the largest employer of PAs nationally, and PAs are considered a critical occupation within the VA. PAs also have the unique ability to flex, or pivot, into different areas of medical care due to their generalist training. This makes PAs incredibly and uniquely versatile healthcare providers.
We should be proud of this rich history as it embodies the spirit of American creativity and ingenuity in solving problems. In fact, PAs are literally made in America. Until recent years, the PA profession existed solely within the United States. As we face a deepening healthcare crisis, and our nation seeks to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, this creative American solution to healthcare challenges is being held back in its ability to most effectively care for our citizens.
Current administrative barriers - both state and Federal - restrict PAs from practicing medicine to the full extent of their education, training, and experience. While some state barriers have been temporarily eliminated through emergency declarations, many remain. Further, at the Federal level, PAs remain encumbered by antiquated practice restrictions, limiting their ability to effectively care for our veterans, among others. The current administration’s own HHS reported on these issues in their 2018 report entitled, “Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition”, specifically stating:
“States should consider eliminating requirements for rigid collaborative practice and supervision agreements between physicians […] and their care extenders (e.g., physician assistants […]) that are not justified by legitimate health and safety concerns.”
We, the people, call on President Trump and his White House administration to permanently grant Full Practice Authority to all Federal service PAs so they may function as Licensed Independent Practitioners (LIP) in all Federal jurisdictions. Various high-ranking administration officials have already clarified their support for LIP status for PAs, including Robert Wilkie, United States Secretary of Veteran Affairs who affirms doing so would increase care access and reduce the costly burdens associated with collaborative PA practice. The White House has the ability to take this action by executive order, and can enable all Federally employed PAs to serve our citizens to their full federal scope of practice. It’s time to allow PAs to create the greatest positive impact within the Federal care system now and in the future.
Started as a brilliant home-grown American concept over 50 years ago, PAs have earned a respected place within the healthcare system - serving millions of patients on a daily basis. We believe this White House administration has the insight to finally move PA practice at the Federal level into the 21st century by granting them Licensed Independent Practice as soon as possible. We look forward to this decisive action from the White House administration to the benefit of the healthcare system and patients.
- AAPA. Attitudes Toward PAs: A 2014 Survey by the American Academy of PAs. October 2014. Web. Accessed 4 April 2020.
- US Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor. Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition. December 3, 2018. Accessed 4 April 2020.