PAs for Puerto Rico and AAPA Meet with Puerto Rico’s New Congresswoman

July 17, 2017

Representatives from PAs for Puerto Rico and AAPA’s Advocacy team recently met with the office of Puerto Rico’s new Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon (designated as Resident Commissioner). They discussed Puerto Rico’s healthcare crisis and why authorizing PAs to practice on the island is part of the solution.

Greg Tosi; Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon; Maryann Ramos; Alfred Sadler; Keisha Pitts
Pictured L to R: Greg Tosi, Legislative Director for Puerto Rico Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon; Maryann Ramos, PA, Legislative Chair, PAs for Latino Health; Alfred Sadler, MD, founder of the Yale PA program, Keisha Pitts, JD, AAPA Advocacy staff.

Puerto Rico is the only U.S. jurisdiction that does not authorize PA practice. Currently, there are only a handful of PAs practicing in federal facilities in Puerto Rico, which is the only way PAs can legally practice. As a result, Puerto Rican residents are generally unfamiliar with the concept of a PA.

During the meeting with Greg Tosi, JD, Legislative Director to Congresswoman Gonzalez Colon, the group emphasized the rigor of PA education and the long history of excellent patient care by PAs. They also explained that PAs would immediately increase access to care by increasing the number of healthcare providers available to meet patient needs.

“As Puerto Rico works toward a solution to its healthcare crisis, authorizing PA practice on the island will vastly improve and expand access to much-needed care. PAs have a very important role in delivering high-quality healthcare to patients in medically underserved areas and rural communities that may not otherwise have adequate access to medical services. It is time to allow Puerto Rican residents access to the excellent care PAs provide patients in every other U.S. state and territory,” said Elena Rios, MD, President & CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, in further support for the authorization of PA practice in Puerto Rico. The previous congressional member for Puerto Rico, Rep. Pedro Pierluisi was a vocal supporter of PA practice in Puerto Rico.

AAPA, along with PAs for Puerto Rico and PAs for Latino Health, is actively working to have legislation introduced to authorize PA practice on the island.  AAPA’s advocacy team regularly hears from PAs who are eager to help meet Puerto Rico’s healthcare needs and are dismayed that legislators have not yet passed legislation authorizing PA practice. The previous congressional member for Puerto Rico, Rep. Pedro Pierluisi was a vocal supporter of PA practice in Puerto Rico.  We look forward to continued engagement with Congresswoman Gonzalez Colon’s team on this very important issue.

The Society of Dermatology PAs (SDPA) will host its 15th Annual Fall Dermatology Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico in November 2017. The conference is expected to bring a large group of PAs to Puerto Rico and will be an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and support for the profession on the island. SDPA and AAPA are working together to maximize the impact of SDPA’s November event.

For more information, contact Keisha Pitts, JD, director of constituent organization outreach and advocacy, at [email protected].