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The Doctor Is Out, But The PA Will See You Now

On March 25, 2013, Governor Steve Beshear signed House Bill 104, a bill that will change how Physician Assistants (“PAs”) practice in the Commonwealth. Under former law, a PA had to be directly supervised in by a doctor in the first eighteen months of their medical practice. Kentucky had the longest supervision requirement of any state in the U.S.

The new law establishes that from July 2013 to May 2014, physicians will be required to be on-site as newly-graduated PAs provide care for the first three months of practice. On June 1, 2014, this requirement will be eliminated altogether. In addition, PAs may perform services in a location separate from their supervising physician; this is possible because supervisors may now “supervise” via telecommunication.

The bill began as Senate Bill 43, but as the session progressed, the language was removed from the senate bill and inserted into HB 104, an art therapy bill. This is because while SB 43 was in the House, the House Committee Substitute inserted language into the bill that would have repealed the need for advance practice registered nurses (“APRNs”) to have a collaborative agreement with a physician to prescribe non-narcotic drugs. This provision in SB 43 faced strong opposition.

HB 104 had the support of the Academy of Physician Assistants because, “in rural areas, the PA may be the only health care provider on-site…”.  With an influx of new regulations consuming more and more of doctors’ time and Healthcare Reform increasing patient volume, this bill will enable providers to better respond to patient needs.

The Commonwealth has two renowned PA programs (the University of Kentucky and University of the Cumberlands); with the loosened post-graduate requirements contained in HB 104, hopefully graduates of these programs will be sticking around to practice their chosen profession.

This article is intended as a summary of state law and does not constitute legal advice.

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