New AMA Policy on Non-Physician Independent Practice Confirms Existing AMA Policy

November 22, 2017

The American Academy of PAs (AAPA) had representatives attend the American Medical Association (AMA) interim meeting of its House of Delegates (HOD) earlier this month in Hawaii where new policy related to PAs essentially confirmed existing AMA policy.

Overall, AMA adopted policies on a wide variety of issues, including keeping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) out of hospitals, finding relief for the high cost of insulin, and preventing and treating opioid use disorder. Delegates also passed two resolutions of particular interest to PAs.

The first, Resolution 230, opposed legislation or regulation that allows physician assistant independent practice. This was offered in response to AAPA’s Optimal Team Practice.

“Unfortunately, AMA sees Optimal Team Practice as PAs seeking to practice independently and that is simply not the case. With Optimal Team Practice, we are seeking to enhance team practice and patient outcomes by replacing archaic state-required supervisory agreement laws between physicians and PAs with practice-level decision-making about collaboration,” said L. Gail Curtis, PA-C, MPAS, DFAAPA, AAPA President and Chair of the Board.

The second, Resolution 214, resulted in tasking AMA with convening an in-person meeting of relevant physician stakeholders to initiate the creation of a consistent national strategy to oppose independent practice and “inappropriate scope of practice expansion” of “non-physician practitioners.”

It is important to note that both these resolutions addressed what is already AMA policy so there is nothing new other than convening an in-person meeting.

“PAs value their relationships with physicians. AAPA will continue to communicate with AMA and other physician organizations regarding our efforts to modernize laws and regulations,” continued PA Curtis.

As fewer physicians own practices, there is less incentive for them to enter into supervisory agreements with PAs. Some group practices, hospitals, and health systems are moving away from hiring PAs because of the administrative and legal hurdles of hiring PAs and managing PA-physician supervisory agreements. Replacing antiquated supervisory agreements with practice-level decision-making ensures that PAs can continue to practice with physicians and everyone wins, including patients.

Stephen H. Hanson, MPA, PA-C, DFAAPA, AAPA liaison to the AMA, and Ann Davis, MS, PA-C, vice president of constituent organization outreach and strategy, attended the meeting. 

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