American Academy of Physician Assistants

How Healthcare Reform Affects PAs

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a number of provisions that will directly influence and possibly benefit the PA profession.

Some of the ways in which the ACA will affect PAs are as follows:

More demand for PAs

As a result of numerous provisions designed to expand health insurance coverage, millions more Americans will now be insured, with the number likely to continue to increase for years to come. 

While it’s beneficial to both individuals and society to have more people with health coverage, this new wave of healthcare consumers will exacerbate the already increasing physician shortage.

Consequently, in the coming years, the system will likely rely more on health professionals such as PAs, and more will be expected of them.

Recognition as primary care health providers

The ACA recognizes PAs as an essential part of the solution to the primary care shortage by formally acknowledging them as one of the three primary care health providers. 

Expansion of PAs

The ACA commits to expanding the number of PAs by providing financial support for scholarships and loan forgiveness programs, as well as by funding the training of 600 new PAs.

Development of new payment models

Another provision of the ACA that has already, and will continue to, affect PAs is the development of new payment models such as accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes, which focus heavily on coordination of care.

PAs will play a large part in this coordination, as the health workforce continues to adopt an increasingly team-oriented approach to care provision.

Incentives for primary care

The ACA implemented new primary care incentives through which PAs can benefit. Through 2016, Medicare will provide a bonus of 10 percent for certain services provided by primary care providers, which PAs are eligible to receive.