Congress has passed and President Trump has signed into law two improvements to Medicare that represent significant victories for physician assistants and the patients they serve.
The first improvement will allow PAs to manage and provide hospice care to terminally-ill Medicare patients; another will allow PAs to supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs under the Medicare program.
In the US, PAs practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other providers. They practice and prescribe medication in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and the uniformed services. They are nationally certified and state-licensed medical professionals.
The new law modernizes outdated Medicare law with language specific to PAs in the Medicare Patient Access to Hospice Act.
“Literally hundreds of PAs have made the case to members of Congress about the necessity to eliminate the unwarranted restrictions which have prevented PAs from providing hospice care to their Medicare patients. Too many PAs have patients that have been under their care for years who have been forced to choose between continued care and hospice,” said L. Gail Curtis, PA-C, MPAS, DFAAPA, president and chair of AAPA’s Board of Directors. “This new law will empower PAs to offer continuity of care at a time when patients and their families are most vulnerable.”
Medicare beneficiaries throughout the nation, especially those living in rural and other medically underserved communities where PAs may be the sole healthcare professional, will benefit from this important legislation. This change will take effect Jan. 1, 2019.
AAPA is thankful to the Congressional champions who supported this legislative change, including Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Tom Carper (D-DE), and Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Mike Thompson (D-CA).
The new law also includes language from the Improving Access to Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Act, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024, to allow PAs and other advanced practice providers to supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs for Medicare patients.
The “Congressional champions” for this legislative change include Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and John Lewis (D-GA).
These healthcare provisions were part of a two-year budget agreement that includes stopgap government funding that runs through March 23, 2018. AAPA will continue to push for additional changes to improve PA practice for the more than 123,000 PAs and the patients they serve.
About the American Academy of PAs
AAPA is the national organization that advocates for all PAs and provides tools to improve PA practice and patient care. Founded in 1968, AAPA represents a profession of more than 123,000 PAs across all medical and surgical specialties in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories and the uniformed services. Visit www.aapa.org to learn more.