PAs get OK to manage hospice care for beneficiaries

The American Association of Physician Assistants (AAPA) on Friday praised the two-year spending package President Trump recently signed into law for changes to Medicare law that grants physician assistants (PAs) more medical privileges.

The spending package funds the federal government through March 23, raises 2018 and 2019 budget caps for defense and domestic programs, and includes wide-ranging implications for health care.

New PA medical privileges

The spending package updated language pertaining to PAs in the Medicare Patient Access to Hospice Act. Under the new law, PAs beginning on Jan. 1, 2019 will be able to provide and manage hospice care for Medicare beneficiaries who are terminally ill.

The spending package also updated language from the Improving Access to Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Act. Under the new law, beginning Jan. 1, 2024, advanced practice providers, such as PAs, will be able to supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs for Medicare beneficiaries.

According to Healthcare Finance News, the changes could benefit Medicare beneficiaries who live in medically underserved communities, where a PA might be the only viable health care professional to provide such services.

AAPA in a statement said the "new law will empower PAs to offer continuity of care at a time when patients and their families are most vulnerable" (Lagasse, Healthcare Finance News, 2/9; AAPA statement, 2/9).

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