Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, physician assistants can now supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs under the Medicare program as well as provide and manage Hospice care for terminally ill Medicare patients. The extended medical privileges for physicians assistants could benefit Medicare beneficiaries who live in medically underserved and rural communities, where a PA might be the only available medical professional to provide some services, according to news reports.
According to a statement by the AAPA
“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.”
According to The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO):
“We applaud the passage of this legislation and thank Senator Enzi, Senator Carper, Congresswoman Jenkins and Congressman Thompson for their support,” said NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach. “This common sense, bipartisan legislation will go a long way to ensuring that patients can have their preferred care team at the end of life.”
Prior to the passage of this legislation, Medicare would only allow physicians and nurse practitioners (and not Physicians Assistants) to serve as a patient’s hospice attending physician, creating a significant challenge for both hospice providers and the patients and families