East County News Service
November 11, 2015 (Washington D.C.) -- As the only former Physician Assistant (PA) now serving in Congress, Representative Karen Bass (D-Calif.) this week introduced two pieces of legislation to make sure that people who want to become Physician Assistants have the ability to successfully attend college as well as making sure that Physician Assistant education programs have the resources they need.
The shortage of primary care physicians in the United States is expected to exceed 124,000 by 2025. Having educated and qualified PAs is key to mitigating this shortage and guaranteeing that Americans are having their healthcare needs met.
"PAs across the nation are providing high quality healthcare to patients in both our largest cities and in America's most rural areas," said Rep. 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."
The two bills that Rep. Bass introduced today would make sure that qualified students have the resources they need to compete their education to become PAs and ensure that PAs are working in the areas of the country that need them the most.
H.R. 3943, the "Physician Assistant Education Public Health Initiatives Act of 2015" would expand scholarships for PA students, authorize a loan repayment program for PAs who spend at least two years in the classroom educating PAs students or working in medically underserved areas or community health centers. It will fund research into PA education and help educational institutions develop full-time PA faculty members.
H.R. 3944, the "Physician Assistant Higher Education Act of 2015" will work to assist qualified individuals receive the education they need to complete their studies to become a PA. The legislation will expand scholarships for PA students, increase the unsubsidized loan limit for PA students, develop a program to expand PA education programs for institutions that serve rural areas, make Historically Black Colleges and Universities eligible to receive additional grants for PA education programs, and provide funding to colleges and universities to improve the faculty and modernize technology at institutions that are educating and training PAs.
“This milestone legislation will help ensure that PA programs have the faculty required to train first-class PAs,” said Anthony Miller, chief policy officer for the Physician Assistant Education Association. “It will also give students greater access to the high-level education necessary to become PAs, thereby helping meet the increasing demand for a more robust PA workforce.”
Earlier this year Rep. Bass introduced H.R.1345, the "Health IT Modernization for Underserved Communities Act of 2015," will improve patient care and recognize the work of PAs by extending the electronic health record (EHR) Medicaid incentive payment to all physician assistants whose patient volume includes at least 30% Medicaid recipients.