Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) faculty Jon Baird, DMSc, PA-C, ATC, and Utah State Senator Curtis Bramble discuss Utah State Senate Bills 27 and 28. These bills will “provide more autonomy for physician assistants (PA) practicing in the healthcare arena” here in Utah and increase access to quality mental health care for residents.
PAs and Physicians have been working in tandem for over 50 years and they have been limited to whatever their supervising physician is capable of doing. Senator Bramble explains that these bills will remove the requirement of Physician supervision over PAs while simultaneously providing specific oversight requirements for a PA’s first 5,000 hours of work. When a PA has worked 10,000 hours or more they will be able to work independently. “What this bill does,” said Baird, “is it says if the PA has an education and experience and competence they are allowed to do those things even if that isn’t’ necessarily within the education or the scope of the physician.”
Bramble illustrates the importance of these bills with an example of what recently happened in Gunnison, Utah during the pandemic. In the middle of the epidemic, this small rural town lost it’s practicing physician to Covid-19. This meant that they had no one to provide healthcare despite the fact that they had a PA working there at the time. The goal of these bills, according to Bramble, is to prevent any similar dilemmas from happening in the future and to allow for easy access to healthcare.
Baird and Bramble believe that PAs are already responsible for what they would be doing if working independently. They explain that due to Covid-19, PAs have already been practicing far more independently than ever before. Bramble says Senate Bill 27 and 28 will allow for PAs to continue to work at their highest level while still being safe and undergoing the proper amount of evaluation. He goes on to say that these changes will most likely not alter the way PAs are currently practicing but will help rural areas where PAs may need to take more responsibility in healthcare due to people’s limited access to doctors and other medical practitioners.
Bramble explains these bills must pass through intense scrutiny and debate to become laws. However, he is optimistic that as long as these bills can move through the process before the session ends that they will pass, especially as the Lieutenant Governor and the Governor have both come out in support of these bills.
Listen to the podcast episode.