I recall sitting on the House Floor when Optimal Team Practice (OTP) passed unanimously in 2017. Fast forward to today, it’s so surreal to take part as an early career PA, advocating for changes on a state level.
I recently returned from Tallahassee to meet with my legislators on behalf of the Florida Academy of PAs.
It was a busy 2 days on the hill. I was able to meet with 8 different legislators and sat in on a few of the health committee meetings. Overall, it was a great experience and I encourage everyone to advocate for the profession at least once in their PA career, or if you’re at AAPA, stop by the House Floor and take a listen to your fellow PA leaders!
Our two biggest points for Legislative Days this year was to:
- Change the makeup of our PA Council
Currently, in Florida, our PA Council is made up of 3 doctors and 1 PA. We are the only medical profession that is governed by another profession. How bizarre is THAT!? Perhaps 50 years ago when the profession was first started, it made sense for PAs to be scooped under the Board of Medicine, however, with the growing number of licensed PAs, I think its time that we have better representation!
- Expand access to care (OTP point #2, see below)
With the shortage of doctors, PAs are part of the solution to provide access to healthcare. Currently, the statute requires PAs to be supervised by physicians. By eliminating this requirement for specific physician agreement, more PAs can practice in collaboration with physicians and meet patient demand.
As you can see, there is a lot of work that lies ahead. Until every state recognizes the 4 pillars of OTP, we all need to play our part and advocate for our profession!
For those of you that don’t know, Optimal Team Practice or OTP is the idea that medical professionals (PAs, physicians, other health team members) work together to provide high-quality care for patients without administrative constraints.
OTP is made up of 4 pillars:
- Strengthen Healthcare Team – Reducing administrative burdens and enable practice-level decision making
- In other words, practice agreement should be made at the practice level
- Expand Access to Care – Eliminate the requirement for an agreement with a specific physician
- Access to care for rural/underserved medical communities
- Reduce Healthcare Spending – Increase practice flexibility so patients are seen in the right setting
- e. no more flooding of ED visits if patients can have access to the appropriate healthcare providers;
- Help Employers Meet Patient Needs – Proper reimbursement/recognition by insurance companies/healthcare payers
- Reduce provider burnout, expand on the number of healthcare providers and more importantly, allow PAs to grow and meet the demands of healthcare needs
For more details on OTP, check out: https://www.aapa.org/advocacy-central/optimal-team-practice/.
Two of the questions I often get asked are, “Why should I join AAPA/State PA Societies?” and “How does one get involved?”
Although U.S. News announced that we are the best ranked medical profession for 2018, I hope this was a clear example of why we have not yet won the battle.
Thanks to AAPA and State PA Societies, PAs are making comfortable salaries and are in high demand. A few hundred dollars a year is a small investment for the future of the profession!
Other perks as a member of these societies include:
- As a pre-PA student: Opportunities to network, attend specific pre-PA tracks at conferences, and the opportunity to find a mentor early on (invaluable)
- As a PA Student: Opportunities to network, discounts to partners, again, the opportunity for mentoring, keeping up to date with the latest PA news
- As a PA: Knowing that when things go wrong, these PA societies will fight on your behalf, find resources and tools to advance your career exclusive only to AAPA members
It’s easy to get involved!
- As a pre-PA student: Attend local PA events, educate the community on what PAs are
- As a PA Student: Attend legislative days with your State PA society, become a House of Delegate as part of the Student Academy for AAPA, represent PA students and voting on PA legislation
- As a PA: grassroots on the state level (reach out to your academy elected officials), donate to your state’s political action committee (PAC), lobby on the hill
- For more information and resources, https://www.aapa.org/advocacy-central/state-advocacy/tools-state-advocates/
In summary, my words to my classmates and now to you is if you are not willing to go and meet your legislators every year, PAY someone to fight those battles for YOU!
I want to thank Savanna again for allowing me to take over her IG to share my experiences on what it’s like to lobby and advocate for the PA profession. If you have any additional questions about PA legislation, or how to get involved in PA advocacy, feel free to reach out!
“Late last week, FAPA’s legislative committee and lobbyist collaborated with dedicated legislative leaders to secure an amendment on HB 821. A long standing legislative priority has been increased access to primary care for Floridians. The submitted language removes unnecessary regulatory burdens, and allows experienced PAs to practice without supervision in certain primary care settings. The amendment also recommends changes to the composition of the state PA council, permitting a PA majority to regulate the PA profession under the Board of Medicine. FAPA is proud to submit language that will expand how PAs provide care for Floridians. We thank Representative Cary Pigman for his work on this important bill. Bill language here: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/…/BillText/c1/PDF”
…here’s hoping that this makes it all the way as a victory for Florida!
For more information on Florida PA Legislation, check out: FAPA!