As more patients are becoming insured, the population ages, and technology advances, there will be increasing demand for health care services. Physician assistants (PAs) are the answer. 

To meet this demand, PAs must be able to practice at the top of our education and experience in every jurisdiction, health system, and model of care to provide comprehensive and quality care. Legislators and regulators at the state and national levels must reduce and remove barriers that inhibit full PA practice. 

To advance PA practice, clinicians must focus on achieving excellence in patient care. As the need for primary care services increases, we have an obligation as clinical providers to provide the best care possible to patients and their families. 

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Advancing the profession through legislative and regulatory updates can be enhanced by staying involved in the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) and in a constituent organization.

Forbes recently reported that “there is unprecedented demand for PAs as insurance payment and the Affordable Care Act encourage a team-based approach to managing the care of patient populations.” 

As the health care system moves from a focus on volume to a focus on value, PAs will continue to play a critical role in delivering quality care. 

Team-based care relying on PAs is an efficient way to deliver quality care. The Medicus Firm, a national physician recruiter, reported that PAs moved up to number 5 among its top 10 most frequently placed medical care providers in 2014. 

In addition, a cost analysis conducted by health policy consultant Roderick S. Hooker, PhD, MBA, PA, and RAND Corporation Assistant Policy Analyst and doctoral candidate Ashley N. Muchow, found that even modest changes to Alabama PA and nurse practitioner laws would result in a net savings of $729 million for a 10-year period. 

Earlier this year, AAPA launched the Center for Healthcare Leadership and Management (CHLM) to provide advisory services, programs, and expertise on optimizing PA practice. We continue to reach out to employers of PAs and engage them to improve utilization of PAs, create effective management systems, maximize reimbursement and fiscal efficiency, and develop programs, benefits, and workforce models that help retain top-notch PAs. 

We are updating our model state legislation that will highlight best practices in state regulation to serve as a model for other states that are hoping to expand patient access to care in the evolving system. And we continue to work at the federal level to modernize laws and regulations.

These initiatives will allow PAs to provide the care they have been trained and educated to deliver.

John McGinnity, MS, PA-C, DFAAPA, is the President of the American Academy 
of Physician Assistants.