Illinois Chapter Renews Practice Law and Removes Barriers to Care

2018 Advocacy Award Recipient Passes PA Modernization Act  

May 23, 2018

By Abby Boshart

The Illinois Academy of PAs (IAPA) is the 2018 recipient of AAPA’s Outreach and Advocacy Award for Creating Progressive Practice Environments. The award is presented each year to recognize constituent organizations (COs) for their outstanding programs, projects and initiatives.

In 2015, PAs in Illinois were facing major challenges. The profession was losing ground in the marketplace and would soon face the sunset of the law authorizing PA practice in the entire state. Concerned about the direction that their profession was heading, IAPA, under the direction of Jennifer Orozco, PA-C, DFAAPA and Mindy Sanders PA-C, CPAAPA, decided to undertake a major overhaul of their organization and advocacy efforts.

The IAPA Board of Directors hired a new management company, a new lobbyist and began a campaign to recruit new, enthusiastic members. They also formed a Legislative Committee to pursue new legislative action that would not only protect PAs practice but also implement new legislation aligned with Optimal Team Practice (OTP).

L. Gail Curtis, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, president and chair of AAPA’s Board of Directors. and Constituent Relations Work Group Chair Rafael Pomales, MHS, PA-C present othe 2018 Outreach and Advocacy Award for Creating Progressive Practice Environments to Mindy Sanders, Jennifer Orozco and Katie Sweitzer PA-C, IAPA Chief Delegate.

“We wanted PAs that had significant legislative and clinical practice experience, but we also wanted new graduates and students who would offer new insight into the challenges that they are facing early in their careers,” says Orozco, IAPA’s legislative committee chair.

As they pursued legislation that would later become known as the PA Modernization Act, IAPA knew that they would face opposition from other groups in the state. The Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) and payers within the state government pushed back about provisions in the bill that would alter how PAs are able to submit claims to Medicaid. The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) also launched a last-minute lobbying campaign against the bill because of clarifying language regarding NCCPA certification and license renewal.

“We were prepared right from the beginning for pushback,” says Orozco. “We had already developed multiple plans and options for negotiation and had a strong group of PA leaders who were determined to modernize PA practice.”

IAPA was able to overcome these challenges and the PA Modernization Act was signed into law in August 2017. The act included provisions removing barriers to care, including changing the “supervisory” requirement to “collaborating,” allowing PAs to submit claims to Medicaid under their own name, and clarifying license renewal requirements.

Not only was the law passed, but it received 28 legislative sponsors and passed unanimously in both the Illinois House and Senate. IAPA credits its legislative and lobbying committees with this victory, as well as support they received from AAPA.

“Our unanimous passage is a direct reflection of the tireless efforts of our legislative team, led by our lobbyist Dan Shomon,” says Sanders, IAPA immediate past president. “We mobilized membership via live meetings, email notifications, as well as leveraging social media to gain support for our agenda. Our CO was organized and dedicated in our efforts.”

For other organizations seeking legislative progress in their own state, Sanders says you must leverage support from PAs throughout your state or specialty.

“Create a diverse team of PAs that embody passion for our profession,” says Sanders. “Work with your AAPA representative to research PA practice in your neighboring states, as well as across the nation.”

Abby Boshart is the communication coordinator at AAPA. Contact her at communications@aapa.org.