As an assignment for their “Issues and Professional Practice” course, 57 Butler physician assistant (PA) students lobbied Indiana legislators to pass Indiana House Bill (HB) 1099, long-awaited legislation that brings the state in line with nationally accepted PA practices.
The students’ actions inspired a major health care organization to speak up for the bill, which was passed and becomes state law in July.
Assistant Professor Michele Schultz, the “Issues” course instructor, said HB 1099 modernizes the state’s earlier Physician Assistant Practice Act, allowing a PA to provide expanded medical services and assist their supervising physicians more collaboratively than previously allowed in Indiana.
Schultz and her students were among the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ participants at the Physician Assistant Legislative Day rally at the Indiana State House on Jan. 22. Organized by the Indiana Academy of Physician Assistants professional chapter, the rally brought together practicing PAs and PA students and faculty from the four physician assistant programs in Indiana.
“The goal for students in the ‘Issues’ course was to join a practicing PA and meet with a state legislator, to assist them in appreciating how the proposed changes to the PA Practice Act in Indiana would advance the ability to meet the rising demands of health care,” Schultz said.
Butler students and faculty wrote letters urging Indiana House of Representatives and state Senators to pass the bill. They did, and the bill moved to the state Senate for its approval. Butler’s forces then organized phone calls to senators, who subsequently passed the bill.
The father of one of Schultz’s students is the president and CEO of a large, rural hospital in Indiana. Schultz said that, when the CEO heard of the students’ legislative involvement, he wrote a letter in support of HB 1099 to the Indiana Hospital Association.
“The letter resulted in a formal statement from the Indiana Hospital Association in support of the expansion of PA practice,” she said. “This grassroots effort is a wonderful example of how, collectively, there is strength in numbers while at the same time demonstrating how students’ efforts can make a tremendous difference.”
The new law will enable these practices:
- PAs may prescribe Schedule II medications, and the requirement that a PA must practice for one year before prescribing non-controlled drugs will be dropped.
- Physicians no longer will need to be located in a contiguous county from where the PA is practicing, but must practice within reasonable proximity to the PA.
- Language that restricted physicians from practicing with two exclusive PAs is removed; a physician now may practice with an unlimited number of PAs, so long as they only supervise two PAs at a time.
- Chart review requirements have been updated to require 100 percent chart review only for the first year of a PA’s practice, 50 percent chart review for the second year, and 25 percent chart review for all subsequent years of practice.
HB 1099 answers the call for more health care providers in Indiana, which was prompted by passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Schultz said.
“HB 1099 authorizes physician assistants and their supervising physicians to collaborate and provide care that delivers the broadest scope of practice allowed by training,” she said.
“This expansion of the PA Practice Act will serve Indiana by keeping health practitioners in-state, rather than leaving for states that have better Practice Acts. It also will help keep the scholarship dollars awarded to Butler students within the state of Indiana. Butler students will benefit from the act, as it creates a more favorable environment in which to learn and practice.”
A new Indiana law governing pharmacy practices also passed this spring, with help from COPHS students and faculty.
Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson