ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 20, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This week, the Ohio governor and state lawmakers took a vital step to ensure Ohioans, who have faced a medical provider shortage with potential severe healthcare consequences, have increased access to quality medical providers by enacting Senate Bill 110 (SB 110). With measures to enable physician assistants (PAs) to more fully provide effective and efficient patient care, SB 110 modernizes the Buckeye State's law for the more than 2,400 practicing PAs.
"It is no secret that PAs are a critical component of providing valuable care to patients who need it," said Scott Cackler, PA-C, president of the Ohio Association of PAs (OAPA). "Our state has taken an important step to improve the ways that PAs practice medicine so patients have access to the quality medicine they deserve."
PAs are nationally certified and state-licensed to practice medicine in every setting and specialty. They diagnose and treat patients, order and interpret tests, assist in surgery and perform medical procedures, make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes, and prescribe medications. A PA's role may also include patient education and research. PAs are educated at the graduate level through rigorous programs modeled on the medical school curriculum, and Ohio has 11 PA programs with two additional pending.
Now that SB 110 has been signed into law, all 50 states and the District of Columbia use the same official regulatory term, "licensure," increasing PAs ability to practice. The bill broadens the utilization of PAs, enhancing access for patients and improving the efficiency with which PAs are licensed to practice medicine. This bill and a recent report from the National Governors Association highlight the fact that state lawmakers are recognizing the value of PAs.
"AAPA congratulates OAPA on this win for PAs—and patients—throughout Ohio," said Jeffrey A. Katz, PA-C, DFAAPA, the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) president and chair of the board. "The passage of SB 110 upholds the fact that, when PAs are allowed to practice to the full extent of their education and experience, they can deliver better healthcare and provide more access to their patients, especially those in medically underserved areas."
The need for PAs and the care they provide is expected to surge as America's population continues to grow, and record numbers of older patients face chronic conditions. Indeed, demand for PAs and NPs rose by more than 300 percent over the past three years alone, according to national healthcare search firm Merritt Hawkins.
"This bill helps offer a solution to a big problem in our state. There is a growing demand for health services and a shortage of qualified healthcare professionals to meet that demand, especially in the rural and Appalachia regions of our state," said Sen. David Burke (R-OH), author of the bill. "By removing statutory barriers to practice and updating provisions to better fit our modern healthcare needs, we can ensure that PAs are able to care for more patients in our communities."
Working together, OAPA and AAPA actively advocate for improvements to state laws to allow PAs to more effectively and efficiently provide the medical care Ohio needs. The bill was passed unanimously by both houses of the general assembly. The PA-related provisions were originally introduced as SB 55, but were amended into SB 110.
About the American Academy of Physician Assistants
AAPA is the national organization that advocates for all PAs and provides tools to improve PA practice and patient care. Founded in 1968, AAPA represents a profession of more than 100,000 certified PAs across all medical and surgical specialties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories and the uniformed services. Visit www.aapa.org to learn more.
About the Ohio Association of Physician Assistants
Formed in 1978 to represent the physician assistant profession in Ohio, the Ohio Association of Physician Assistants (OAPA) promotes quality, cost-effective, accessible healthcare through the physician assistant-physician team approach. Learn more at www.ohiopa.com.
SOURCE American Academy of Physician Assistants