AAPA Asks CMS to Make Permanent COVID-19 Waivers and Regulatory Changes
AAPA and 62 PA Organizations Push Back Against Unsubstantiated, False & Misleading Claims From Certain Physician Organizations
August 21, 2020
AAPA recently sent a letter to Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), that not only commended the agency for increasing PA flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic through temporary waivers and regulatory changes, but also asked that these changes be made permanent.
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The letter, which was co-signed by 62 PA organizations, stated, “Those burden reduction efforts have paid significant dividends in increasing overall access to care and have been especially important considering the increased patient demand for medical care associated with the COVID-19 PHE [public health emergency]. The improved flexibility in the utilization of the healthcare workforce has been instrumental in preventing the healthcare system from becoming completely overwhelmed.”
These waivers included temporary removal of a long-standing provision that requires Medicare patients in the hospital to be under the care of a physician, allowing hospitals to use PAs and other practitioners to the fullest extent possible. The temporary regulations also included use of telephone communication, as opposed to the previous audio-visual requirement, for evaluation and management services.
The letter also strongly addressed false and miseleading statements by physician organizations who have been increasingly vocal about repealing these temporary changes:
“Certain physician organizations want to turn back the clock and return to a regulatory structure that restricts competition in the healthcare delivery system and hinders patient access to care. They make unsubstantiated claims that care quality will suffer if health professionals who are not physicians are authorized to deliver care to the top of their education and expertise. For PAs and most other health professionals, the facts simply do not support such assertions. In fact, for many years numerous objective reports and studies have come to the exact opposite conclusion. PAs have patient care outcomes that are equal to those of physicians.”
In the spring, AAPA conducted a survey that shows the considerable contributions of PAs and the scale at which they have adapted to meet the needs of patients during the COVID-19 crisis.
AAPA President Beth Smolko, DMSc, MMS, PA-C, adds, “It makes no sense to reinstate these archaic provisions. PAs have been on the front lines of this crisis, providing critical and quality care to patients under incredibly difficult circumstances. It is only logical that if PAs have been able to do their jobs in a crisis environment without these restrictions, then these restrictions are unnecessary and have no place in today’s overburdened healthcare system.”