Making the Case for PA Education: Highlights of PAEA’s Advocacy in 2022
As the Government Relations team prepares to close the book on 2022 and embark upon another year of vigorous advocacy for PA programs, faculty, and students, PAEA would like to thank all PA education advocates for their contributions to the Association’s policy campaigns this year. Thanks to the congressional meetings, calls, and messages made possible by committed PA faculty and students across the country, 2022 was another year of continued progress on key issues for PA education like clinical training site shortages, diversity, and student debt relief. While much work remains for PAEA’s advocacy efforts in 2023, the end of the year provides an opportunity to look back on the achievements of the PA education community and get motivated for the work that lies ahead.
Rural MOMS Act
PAEA’s first advocacy victory of 2022 represented the culmination of several years of work on one of the Association’s highest policy priorities: clinical training site shortages. Since 2019, the Government Relations Team has advocated on behalf of the Rural MOMS Act – bipartisan legislation intended to comprehensively address key drivers of maternal health disparities in rural communities. These efforts were successful in 2022 when the Rural MOMS Act was included as a component of the fiscal year 2022 omnibus appropriations law, thereby authorizing $5 million annually through fiscal year 2027 to expand access to obstetrics and gynecology rotations for PA and other health professions students in rural communities.
Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act
Beyond the issue of clinical site shortages, the Government Relations Team also continuously advocates for federal investments in curriculum development. First introduced in 2020 in response to widespread burnout and rising rates of mental health disorders among health professionals, the PAEA-endorsed Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act passed in 2022 with broad bipartisan support. This legislation codifies investments originally made via the American Rescue Plan Act by authorizing $35 million annually through fiscal year 2024 for entities including PA programs to support student training in strategies to promote resilience and mitigate mental and behavioral health disorders.
Proposed Appropriations Increases
In addition to new funding authorizations, the Government Relations Team also continued the Association’s long-standing advocacy for funding increases for existing Title VII health workforce development programs this year. While final funding levels for fiscal year 2023 remain pending as of this writing, the Health and Human Services funding bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee this summer proposed a number of funding increases for high priority Title VII programs. These include a $6 million increase for Primary Care Training and Enhancement grants, a $3 million increase for Area Health Education Centers, and a $3 million increase for Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students.
National Health Service Corps Progress
A final key victory for 2022 came in the form of increased PA student representation in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) scholarship and loan repayment programs. Following a key advocacy victory in 2021 when eligibility for the National Health Service Corps Students to Service program was expanded to PA students for the first time in a decade, the Government Relations team mobilized to equip students to fully participate this year. In the spring, PAEA released the NHSC resource page – a comprehensive guide to help students learn about the value of the NHSC from alumni, assess which program may be right for them, and determine their eligibility for state-based loan repayment options. These efforts, among others led by PAEA, have led to a more than 300% increase in PA representation in the NHSC student pipeline since 2017, and the Government Relations team is committed to continuing to support students in accessing the program.
Ways to Get Involved
While much has been accomplished over the course of 2022, continued progress in 2023 will only be possible through the sustained engagement of PA faculty and students in PAEA’s advocacy efforts. To facilitate this, the Government Relations team offers several opportunities to easily engage in the policy process. The Grassroots Action Network (GAN) is a convenient, one-stop-shop to receive monthly updates on PAEA’s policy work and participate in email campaigns with congressional offices. For those looking to get more involved, PAEA also offers technical assistance through GAN for student advocacy training and program visits by members of Congress. To learn more about these offerings, please visit GAN or contact Tyler Smith at tsmith@PAEAonline.org.