Congress has signed into law two improvements to Medicare that will greatly affect the physician assistant (PA) profession, according to a press release from the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). The new law, titled the Medicare Patient Access to Hospice Act, modernizes outdated language specific to PAs.

The first improvement will allow PAs to manage and provide hospice care to terminally ill Medicare patients, while the other will allow PAs to supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs under the Medicare program.

“Literally hundreds of PAs have made the case to members of Congress about the necessity to eliminate the unwarranted restrictions which have prevented PAs from providing hospice care to their Medicare patients. Too many PAs have patients that have been under their care for years who have been forced to choose between continued care and hospice,” said L. Gail Curtis, PA-C, MPAS, DFAAPA, president and chair of AAPA’s Board of Directors. “This new law will empower PAs to offer continuity of care at a time when patients and their families are most vulnerable.”

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Medicare beneficiaries throughout the nation, especially those living in rural and other medically underserved communities where PAs may be the primary healthcare professional, will benefit from this important legislation. The new law also includes language from the Improving Access to Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Act to allow PAs and other advanced practice providers to supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs for Medicare patients.

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New Law Permits PAs to Provide Hospice Care to Medicare Patients [press release]. American Academy of PAs. February 9, 2018. Accessible at: