New York Governor Hochul is proposing that the State change supervision requirements to make this executive order permanent. In particular, the proposal establishes conditions under which a physician assistant can practice without the supervision of a physician. If New York State were to implement this law it would modernize the scope of practice for PAs and continue new flexibilities that patients and providers alike benefited from during the pandemic. According to the New York Department of Health, the past orders allowed health professionals greater flexibility and more rapid responses to patient needs throughout the pandemic.

In March 2020, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made an executive order waiving the requirement for a Physician Assistant (PA) to practice primary care medicine under the supervision of a physician or doctor under certain circumstances. This order was further extended by current New York Governor Kathy Hochul.

Should this proposal become law, PAs in New York will experience greater professional freedom. However, this does not mean PAs will practice as if they are physicians. A PA will be required to meet certain standards. This includes being employed by a health system or hospital and having practiced for more than 8,000 hours in primary care or non-surgical general medicine to be allowed to provide treatment without direct oversight by a doctor. PAs can also meet the requirements for this type of practice by completing a program approved by the Departments of Education and Health.

This proposal would also eliminate the restrictions on a physician employing or supervising more than 4 physician assistants in his/her private practice. Additionally, the proposal would permit a physician assistant to prescribe, dispense, order, administer, or procure items needed to commence or complete a course of therapy.

Furthermore, a physician assistant could prescribe and order a patient-specific order or non-patient-specific regimen to a pharmacist or registered professional nurse for the purpose of administering immunizations. A physician assistant can also write medical orders, including those for controlled substances and durable medical equipment, for inpatients.

PAs will still be required to practice medicine under the continuous supervision of one or several licensed physicians, but a doctor would only be designated responsible and not required to be physically present when PAs perform medical services. According to New York State law, those services would include diagnosing, treating, operating, or prescribing for any human disease, pain, injury, deformity, or physical condition.

Allowing PAs this expanded scope of practice with lighter supervision requirements would create greater access to health care across the state. The proposal to formalize the past executive orders into law has been formalized into Assembly Bill A8378. Assembly Bill A8378 is in committee assembly. We will keep you updated on this Bill as it progresses.

*This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial, or medical advice or the forging of an attorney-client relationship. Please retain the services of an attorney to receive legal advice on how the law applies to your business. 

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