$250M Investment Enables Low-Income Areas To Receive Professional Medical Care Faster
WASHINGTON - The American Academy of Physician Assistants, representing more than 75,000 clinically practicing physician assistants in the United States, strongly supports the administration’s announcement detailing $250 million in investments intended to increase the number of health care providers and strengthen the primary care workforce. The investments were made possible by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and will be used to help train and develop 16,000 new providers over the next five years, including physician assistants.
“We’re extremely pleased to see that $32 million of this new funding is specifically intended to support the development of more than 600 new physician assistants who will be able to enter the workforce in about one-third the time of physicians,” said AAPA President Patrick Killeen “PAs’ generalist education, grounding in team-based practice and ability to expand access to care make them ideal practitioners for the needs of 21st century primary health care.”
AAPA will continue to work closely with the Physician Assistant Education Association and the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant to ensure that rigorous PA programs continue to be developed.
PAs practice medicine as part of a team with physicians. All states, the District of Columbia, and Guam authorize PAs to prescribe medication. PAs extend the reach of physician care in group practices or solo physician offices, hospitals, rural clinics, community health centers, freestanding surgical facilities, nursing homes, school- or college-based facilities, industrial settings and correctional systems. AAPA’s latest estimates show that in 2008, more than 257 million patient visits were made to PAs and approximately 332 million medications were prescribed or recommended by PAs.
Approximately 47 percent of PAs practice in primary care and emergency medicine, regularly bringing medical access to underserved populations such as frontier communities, rural towns, the urban poor and at-risk groups such as the elderly. Nationally, 15 percent of all PAs practice in rural areas, and often the PA is the only medical provider in the community.
“Physician assistants are committed to increasing the reach of medicine to those most in need by extending the ability of physicians to provide quality medical care to more patients at one time,” said Killeen. “Instituting programs that take advantage of all medical providers to make the provision of quality health care services easier and more cost-effective is imperative to meeting the health care needs of the American people.”
The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) is the only national professional association that represents PAs across all medical and surgical specialties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the armed forces and federal services. Founded in 1968, AAPA works to increase the professional and personal growth of the entire PA workforce by providing comprehensive support and advocacy for physician assistants so that they may, in turn, provide patients with increased access to quality, cost-effective health care.