VA Establishes Path to Potentially Adopt Full Practice Authority for PAs

Rule Eliminates Need for Public Battle to Issue New Regulation

November 16, 2020

On Nov. 12, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued an interim final rule that confirms VA healthcare professionals may practice in a manner consistent with the scope and requirements of their VA employment, notwithstanding any State license, registration, certification, or other requirements that unduly interfere with their practice. This rulemaking also confirms the VA’s authority to establish national standards of practice for healthcare providers in order to standardize practice in all VA medical facilities.

This interim final rule serves as a step towards authorizing healthcare professionals working at the VA, including PAs, to be granted full practice authority in order to practice to the full extent of their education and training. PAs provide high-quality care to our nation’s veterans; this interim final rule opens up a pathway to ensure PAs are in the strongest position to continue serving veterans and expand access to care to our nation’s veterans.

The interim final rule took effect immediately upon being issued, and the VA will be accepting comments through Jan. 11, 2021. While the rule took effect as issued, it can be updated with a subsequent final rule that considers comments that are received.

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Rule eliminates need for public battle to issue new regulation
While the rule does not itself implement full practice authority, it makes clear the VA has the authority to do so simply by updating internal policy governing PA practice at the VA. This rule will eliminate the need for PAs to go through a public battle to issue a new regulation with a comment period similar to the process the VA used for nurse practitioners in 2016.

AAPA elected leadership and staff, the Veterans Affairs PA Association, and numerous dedicated PA advocates have spent years pushing for the VA to grant PAs full practice authority. This advocacy has involved numerous meetings with VA leadership, letters to VA leadership from AAPA, and engaging with Congressional champions to build support for this move. The new interim final rule moves us further toward that goal.

AAPA advocacy staff pushed hard at both the VA and the White House to ensure the rule was issued before the current Presidential term ends Jan. 20, 2021. While this rule is a significant milestone toward realizing full practice authority at the VA, we have much work left to do and will continue to pursue positive practice changes. AAPA will submit public comments on the rule.

For more information, contact Tate Heuer, AAPA vice president of Federal Advocacy at [email protected].

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