A monumental piece of legislation which benefits Oregon’s Physician Assistants and the patients we serve was signed into law by Governor John Kitzhaber. Known as SB 1548, this piece of legislation has been termed the PA/NP Technical Fix Bill. While the bill’s description was simple, the process of reaching the final outcome was complex and represented Grassroots Advocacy at its very best….something of pride for every PA in Oregon.
Here’s some history….
You know, and most importantly your patients know, that Physician Assistants are a critical component in the delivery of effective healthcare in Oregon. We ensure that our patients receive the very best of medical care throughout the year. However it has been the experience of many PAs that even though nearly everyone knows that PAs are qualified to perform certain procedures and services that somewhere in time the term “PA” was excluded from legislation and regulations – and PAs were absent from serving patients alongside MDs, DOs, NPs, RNs, and other medical professionals.
In late 2013, the OSPA Governmental Affairs Committee led by Committee Chair Erin Cramer, PA-C, and OSPA Lobbyist Elizabeth Remley took on the challenge of righting the wrongs of decades past and correcting the laws that prevented PAs from performing services and procedures that they were trained to perform on behalf of their patients. The plan was to act quickly during the abbreviated 2014 legislative session to insert PAs into several existing pieces of law and effectively allow you all to do what you do best – “Care for your Patients!”
The OSPA Governmental Affairs Committee reviewed 180 Oregon Statutes and identified 90 feasible sections of the Statutes where PAs were excluded from providing medical care to patients, of which 75 ended up in the final legislation. By utilizing the relationships that have been developed with State Senator Laurie Monnes-Anderson, who agreed to champion the legislation, the committee decided that NOW was the time to correct the past and do a major legislative fix to laws on the books and provide PAs with the ability to practice medicine and not have to worry about obstacles that were unintentionally preventing them from providing patient care.
Here a summary of what happened from beginning to successful enactment of the new legislation….
75 areas of Oregon State Law were identified as being in need of correction and updating
12 OSPA members served on the committee
Over 100 hours of volunteer time were invested in reviewing and re-reviewing existing Oregon State Statutes that needed updating
More than 350 emails were exchanged among committee members debating and re-debating what needed to be done.
ZERO ….. “0” votes in opposition to this legislation were cast by Democrats or Republicans (AKA your patients) as the legislation worked its way through the legislative process.
In summary, SB 1548 is getting signed into law. Now, instead of having to justify why you should be able to perform procedures and services that you were specially trained to do, you can point to the law – and share with your practicing physician – that the NEW law provides freedom for your practice and access to quality medical care for your patients. As you review the new legislation when it appears in the Oregon State Statutes you may identify other areas of State Law which requires changes. Please let us know if something jumps out at you that might be worthy of getting changed or updated. Better yet, make certain you are an OSPA member and then join the Government Affairs or other Committee. There is always room for additional OSPA members who want to get involved in bettering their future and that of their patients.
Who is to thank? The OSPA Governmental Affairs Committee, the legislative process, the OSPA Political Action Committee and those who support the OSPA by being a member! Please share this success story with your Supervising Physician and Practice Administrator – no doubt they will cheer and support our successes!