Gov't Relations

Rep. Bass Reintroduces PA Education Bills

By Tyler SmithMarch 20, 2019

US Capitol

Image: Shutterstock

Reintroduced bills include a renewed emphasis on clinical sites.

On March 12, Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA) reintroduced the Physician Assistant Higher Education Modernization Act (H.R. 1685) and the Physician Assistant Education Public Health Initiatives Act (H.R. 1686) in the 116th Congress.

“PAs across the nation are providing high-quality health care to patients in both our largest cities and in America’s most rural areas,” said Bass. In the next decade, the demand for PAs is only going to increase, and Congress needs to act today to make sure that we have the qualified health care professionals ready to meet the growing need.”

Bass, a PA, former PA educator, and the newly elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, has been a longtime champion of PA education, having introduced similar legislation in both the 114th and 115th Congresses.

In 2017, PAEA achieved a significant regulatory victory that established precepting PA students as a Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) clinical practice improvement activity for Medicare Part B billing purposes. The enactment of this provision, which was originally included in the Physician Assistant Education Public Health Initiatives Act, provided an opportunity to develop a new initiative to address clinical training site shortages within the context of the PA education legislation.

To this end, the new Physician Assistant Education Public Health Initiatives Act would:

  • Authorize a five-year demonstration program to provide funding to PA programs to pay for clinical sites at federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, and critical access hospitals. Based on a significant evidence base regarding the impact of training experiences on subsequent practice choices, the purpose of this demonstration would be to determine the efficacy of federal financing of PA clinical training in influencing later PA practice in rural and underserved areas.
  • Reauthorize the Primary Care Training and Enhancement program through fiscal year 2024
  • Authorize grants for PA education research

The second bill, the Physician Assistant Higher Education Modernization Act, would also advance several of PAEA’s key strategic priorities related to higher education policy. This bill would:

  • Institute borrowing parity for PA students under the Federal Direct Loan Program in alignment with their peers in the health professions
  • Incentivize program development at historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions
  • Authorize new investments in infrastructure and faculty development

Throughout the 116th Congress, building support for both Acts will be a top priority for PAEA’s Government Relations team and a major focus of the Association’s grassroots advocacy initiatives.

PAEA’s Government Relations team would like to express its appreciation for the leadership and work of Rep. Bass and her staff on behalf of PA programs, students, and patients.

Tyler Smith

Tyler is the director of government relations at PAEA. He is responsible for PAEA’s grassroots outreach initiatives and advancing the association’s legislative and regulatory priorities.