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Legislative Victory

Legislative Victory

 

Over the past few years, the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants (FAPA) has battled misinformation being spread concerning how PAs are integrated within the healthcare team throughout the State of Florida. This misinformation sometimes leads to burdensome opposition to FAPA’s ideas about policy making. It’s paramount that FAPA garners any information possible to bolster great decision-making by state policymakers on behalf of Florida’s nearly 8,000 PAs. As bills pass through the Legislature, we continue to articulate examples of the number of PAs who work in primary care, work in psychiatry and work in rural areas. Unfortunately, there is NO data to back up the experience Florida PAs have.

 

In the beginning of the year, the FAPA Priority Bill included three main goals: changing the makeup of the PA council, removing the 30-day supervising data form requirement, and adding a workforce survey modeled after the Physician’s current workforce survey. In this year’s legislative session, it was extremely difficult to pass ANY bills. Of the thousands of bills being discussed by legislators, only 72 bills have passed to date. This is a very small number and FAPA is proud to share that an edited version of the FAPA Priority Bill passed. The success was steered by our dedicated lobbyist team who never gave up on passing a Bill that benefits the PAs in Florida. This lobbying team has spent many years building relationships and can speak about the role of a PA as if they are practicing PAs.

 

As the legislative session progressed, our Bill was amended to the workforce survey. The Florida Academy believes this survey will give us the data to push our future agendas with valid information on how we are integrated within the healthcare environment. Uncovering this information gives us “teeth” to support and/or protest proposed laws, rules and declaratory statements from the Council of PAs/Board of Medicine (BOM) and the Legislature.

 

For instance, the BOM (in 2016) voted to oppose the PA controlled substance prescribing legislation, which ultimately passed. When pressed about their opposition, one member of the BOM stated that “PAs practicing in Florida don’t work in rural or underserved areas.” This person argued that there wasn’t a healthcare access problem that would be solved by allowing for the expansion of prescribing. This assertion was a blatant lie, but it wasn’t easily protested due to the lack of Florida-focused data about PA practice.

 

In addition, there will be no additional cost to the PA.  With this legislation, PA license renewal dollars will be utilized to improve your practice environment. Currently, funds that are collected from PA license renewals total more than is needed to implement the laws and rules pertaining to PAs. These dollars end-up in a trust fund under the Department of Health. Unused funds are then “swept” into Florida’s general revenue fund. General revenue is used to fill budget holes with little regard for whom the dollars were generated even though the law stipulates that the renewal fees should only be used to uphold the PA profession.

 

In the past, FAPA has argued that our renewal fees are higher than many professions under the Department of Health, and that these dollars are being used to support Florida’s base budget. It is clear that the State does not have any interest in reducing our renewal fees. Therefore, if these funds are going to be “swept” by the State anyway, we’d like to see them used to improve the PA profession. A workforce survey is a great way to utilize those misappropriated revenues and keep hard-earned dollars within the profession.

 

During this legislative session, the Florida Academy, with the help of our lobbyist Corinne Mixon of Rutledge & Ecenia, successfully explained the importance of our Primary Bill and it passed both Houses this week.

 

Your Academy leadership is excited to see how this data will help improve Florida Statutes and/or Rules and remove restrictions on PA practice. Many thanks to the members of the Legislative and Government Affairs (LGA) team chaired by Dayne Alonso, PA-C, and Ricardo Morales, PA-C.  Thank you to all the PA students and PAs who attended FAPA Legislative Days in Tallahassee this year.  Once again, FAPA would like to share our appreciation of our powerhouse lobby team: the knowledgeable & dynamic lead lobbyist Corrine Mixon and her hard-working team. The Florida Academy thanks you for another year of service to the PA profession. 

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FAPA HEADQUARTERS
222 S. Westmonte Drive, Suite 101
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
PHONE: (407) 774-7880 | FAX: (407) 774-6440
fapa@fapaonline.org



 

 

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