May 12, 2017

PAs Say NO to NCCPA State Lobbying

As PAs gather in Las Vegas for AAPA 2017, the world’s largest gathering of PAs, many are wearing buttons to protest active lobbying of state legislatures by the National Commission on the Certification of PAs (NCCPA) to create or retain statutory language requiring PAs to maintain NCCPA certification as a condition of license renewal.

No other medical profession ties continued licensure to the passage of a recertification exam for all licensees, and there is no evidence that PAs in states that require current certification for license renewal have better patient outcomes or patient safety than those that do not.

Thus far, NCCPA has lobbied in three states (Illinois, New Mexico and West Virginia). AAPA just learned that NCCPA hired lobbying firms in Missouri and Ohio in February. Additionally, NCCPA said in a May 8 newsletter that they have hired a government relations firm in Michigan to help them “monitor the rulemaking process.”

Below is an update about the three states where NCCPA has been active:

ILLINOIS
A PA practice act will sunset this year in Illinois and a new version must be passed in 2017 or PAs will lose their ability to practice in the state. Starting in 2016, the Illinois PA chapter negotiated language with the Illinois State Medical Society to reauthorize the PA act and to make improvements, including changes consistent with AAPA’s Model State Legislation. In late January 2017, NCCPA retained a lobbyist to represent its interests before the state legislature. NCCPA pursued a requirement for recertification testing for PA license renewal. The Illinois state senate rejected NCCPA’s request and approved its version of the PA practice act on April 27. The bill is now in the House where it is expected to be considered in the fall.

NEW MEXICO
In New Mexico, the New Mexico Academy of PAs worked for months with the New Mexico Medical Board, the New Mexico Medical Society and the New Mexico Osteopathic Medical Association to produce legislation that would have provided greater autonomy for PAs in New Mexico and enhance team-based medical practice in the state. The bill easily passed in its first committee with the support of several stakeholder groups. Just hours before the bill was to have a second hearing, the New Mexico Academy of PAs contacted AAPA asking for assistance as they had heard that an NCCPA-retained lobbyist would be testifying against their legislation at the hearing. NCCPA’s lobbyist opposed the bill’s removal of the state’s “current certification” requirement, but did not oppose the rest of the bill. As a result, the sponsor asked for the bill to be reopened and amended to restore the “current certification” requirement. This led to other groups and stakeholders requesting additional amendments. Following this last-minute intervention by NCCPA, a weakened PA modernization bill, which retained current certification for license renewal, was approved by the state legislature.

WEST VIRGINIA
In West Virginia, the West Virginia Association of PAs engaged with the West Virginia Board of Medicine and physicians in the state legislature to produce a bill to improve the PA practice environment in the state and expand patient access to care. NCCPA lobbied the legislature to oppose repeal of the requirement that PAs maintain NCCPA certification in order to remain licensed. The NCCPA amendment was not included in the legislation, which was unanimously approved by the state legislature. However, the bill was vetoed by Governor Jim Justice who cited NCCPA’s concerns in his veto message. The vetoed legislation would have benefited both PAs and their patients, particularly in rural areas of the state. The state PA organization and AAPA hope the original bill is re-passed during a special session of the West Virginia legislature this spring.

“Say NO to NCCPA State Lobbying” buttons are available at the registration area of AAPA 2017.