Colorado Academy of PAs’ Persistence Pays Off with Bill Passage Through Key Committee

Bouncing Back from Failed Vote in 2021, CAPA Secured a 10-1 Vote on its PA Practice Legislation

February 27, 2022

After three and a half hours of testimony, the Colorado Academy of PAs’ (CAPA) priority legislation, HB22-1095, passed with a resounding 10-1 vote during a hearing in the Colorado House Health and Insurance Committee February 23. The bill now goes to a full House vote, scheduled for March 4.

The successful outcome of the hearing demonstrates how securing changes to PA policy takes time, patience, strategy, and persistence. Last year, after the bill was voted down in the same committee, CAPA forged ahead in its efforts for 2022, partnering with AAPA on drafting legislation, research, and grassroots outreach efforts to increase support for full Optimal Team Practice (OTP) in the state.

HB22-1095 updates the term used to describe the PA-physician relationship from “supervision” to “collaboration.” The bill requires physician collaboration for PAs with less than 5,000 practice hours and requires PAs to have physician collaboration for the first 3,000 practice hours when/if the PA changes specialties.

Several PAs practicing in rural regions of the state testified about how the current PA practice laws in Colorado reduce patient access to care, highlighting how the challenges of requiring an on-paper relationship with a physician hinders PAs from serving rural areas and other underserved regions of the state.

Two physicians who testified in support of the bill reinforced the PA testimony and emphasized how necessary PAs are to healthcare teams and expanding access to care.

Chief Medical Officer of ZoomCare Mark Zeitzer, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, testified that PA practice laws in Colorado have prevented the company from hiring PAs. ZoomCare runs 60 urgent care clinics in four states – Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

“Currently with the state of regulations in Colorado, we are unable to hire PAs,” Zeitzer said.

“[PAs] do an excellent job operating in our clinics and practice very high-quality care, and we would love to be able to hire more PAs and expand our services in Colorado. Currently, that is limited by regulations that are in place in Colorado.”

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AAPA President and Chair of the Board Jennifer M. Orozco, MMS, PA-C, DFAAPA, also testified in support of the bill, stating, “Over the course of the last two years, the pandemic has demonstrated the need to have an efficient set of laws and regulations that allow qualified healthcare providers to respond to patient needs. AAPA urges your support of H.B. 1095, which will reduce barriers to high-quality care in Colorado.”

The barriers facing PAs seeking employment in the state was underscored by Darcy Spurgeon, PA-C, an urgent care PA from Virginia, who shared her experience looking for a job in Colorado.  “I graduated from PA school eight months ago with plans to move with my family to the Colorado Springs area. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure a job interview,” Spurgeon said.

During her testimony, Spurgeon shared that her sister, a nurse practitioner, reached out to multiple physician colleagues in Colorado who responded that PAs were excellent clinicians; however, as Spurgeon testified, “…the collective response was an overwhelming ‘We don’t want the administrative burden of a PA – do you know a nurse practitioner looking for work?’”

If you have a similar experience, please email your story to state@aapa.org.

While this committee vote is a tremendous victory, the bill now moves to the full House and is expected to be up for a vote March 4.

AAPA urges all PAs to support their colleagues in Colorado. Please encourage your fellow PAs in Colorado as well as friends and family members who reside in the state to take action through CAPA’s legislative action center.

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