Arkansas Academy of Physician Assistants

President's Welcome Message 2020

Posted about 1 month ago

President’s welcome message 2020

 

 

Dear colleagues,

I am honored to serve as your president for 2020. I hope to use my experience as a family practice clinician, and as an educator at the UAMS PA Program, to lead ARAPA through a successful year.  

This year promises to be an exciting one for PAs in Arkansas. There is a momentum for positive change that should translate to reducing barriers that create administrative burdens or prevent PAs from practicing to the full extent of their education, training, and experience.  Vice President Sara Vann and I orchestrated the first ever PA Day at the Capitol on October 9, 2019, which was successful in building relationships with our senators and legislators. These connections will be essential in the year to come. In March, we will have ARAPA representatives attending the AAPA Leadership and Advocacy Summit in Washington DC where they will have the opportunity to meet with our legislators on Capitol Hill. They will learn about key developments facing the profession such as association management, best practices for constituent organization leaders, and advocacy skill-building.

In October 2019, ARAPA was notified that it had been awarded a $20,000 grant by AAPA to use towards hiring a lobbyist. As a state with fewer PAs than others, funding has been an ongoing challenge. The primary goals of partnering with a lobbyist are to work towards achieving rendering provider status with Arkansas Medicaid, and to ensure parity with Arkansas nurse practitioners in our practice act and regulations.  

Arkansas is one of only six states that do not recognize PAs as rendering providers. This means that when a PA sees a patient with Medicaid, the visit is billed under their supervising physician. This has created confusion in some practices and healthcare systems leading administration to believe that PAs can’t see patients with Medicaid. In some cases, this has led to preferential hiring of nurse practitioners, who are recognized as rendering providers in this state. Additionally, achieving rendering provider status allows better transparency in tracking data and outcomes on the care provided by PAs. In an era of outcomes-based care, it is imperative that PAs are able to demonstrate their value. Our governmental affairs committee has been in dialogue with Arkansas Medicaid, with the aid of AAPA. We have a strategic goal to obtain rendering providers status in 2020!

Arkansas PAs have seen positive regulation changes through the Arkansas State Medical Board. PAs are no longer required to meet in person with their supervising physician to obtain their state license. Additionally, it is no longer required that the supervising physician be within one hour driving distance of the PA. Abolishing these regulations have led to reduced burdens and added stress. Regulation 24 is currently under development, which would allow the PA Protocol to be determined at the practice level. This will allow greater flexibility in customizing a PAs clinical role based upon their experience and education. 

How can you get involved this year? The easiest way to support ARAPA is through maintaining an active membership. With a relatively small constituent base, the revenue generated from this is crucial to support necessary expenditures. Please take a moment to confirm that your membership is up to date. There are many opportunities to volunteer on the various ARAPA subcommittees. These do not require a huge time commitment. Please email me if you are interested. Moreover, ARAPA is collecting data on reimbursement issues, and needs more specific examples of denied claims. If this happens to you, please contact us and be prepared to give some context and the specific CPT or billing code that was denied by the insurer. With adequate data, we can work with AAPA to create solutions. Lastly, consider attending or presenting at the annual fall CME conference (date TBD) which serves as the primary source of revenue for our organization. This is an excellent way to network with fellow Arkansas PAs and maintain your clinical skills and knowledge. 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any concerns,

Heather Trudeau, PA-C

President, ARAPA