Physician Assistants Scope of Practice Expansion in Florida
By: Arlette Rodriguez
Just as is the case with Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, the Florida Legislature has recognized that Physician Assistants (PA) are capable of performing certain health care activities that they were previously prohibited from performing. The changes are largely administrative and does not significantly increase the independent clinical services that they may provide to a patient. On June 29, 2021, the governor approved House Bill 431, which expands the scope of practice for Physician Assistants. The provisions set forth in the House Bill 431 took effect on July 1, 2021.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the changes that PA can expect under the new law:
- Prescribe psychiatric mental health-controlled substances to minors (under certain circumstances);
- Supervise medical assistants;
- Sign and certify documents that previously required a physician’s signature, such as Baker Act commitments, do-not-resuscitate orders, school physicals, and death certificates;
- Bill directly to the insurance companies and receive payments for their provided services, and;
- Authorize doctors to supervise up to ten physician assistants; (previously it was limited to four).
Notably, the law does not permit PA to sign for medical marijuana certification, workers compensation medical examinations required to determine maximum medical improvement, and impairment ratings. Florida PA are bound by the requirements contained in Florida Statute §§458.347 and 459.022.
One of the more noteworthy changes to the law is that it deletes the requirement that a physician assistant must inform his or her patients that they have the right to see a physician before the physician assistant prescribes or dispenses a prescription (amendment to Fla. Stat. §458.347(4)(e)(1)) and Fla. Admin. Code R. 64B8-30.012. Also, physician assistants are now authorized to procure drugs and medical devices and revising the requirements for a certain formulary (amendment to Fla. Stat. §458.347(4)(f)(1) and Fla. Admin. Code R. 64B8-30.008).
Certificate of Completion of a Board Physician Assistant
Under the House Bill 431, a physician assistant applicant who has graduated after December 31, 2020 must have received a master’s degree in accordance with the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. For an applicant who graduated on or before December 31, 2020, one must have received a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an approved program.
An applicant who graduated before July 1, 1994, must have graduated from an approved program of instruction in primary health care or surgery. An applicant who graduated before July 1, 1983, must have received a certification as a PA from the board.
Finally, the bill further authorizes the board to grant a license to an applicant who does not meet the above specified educational requirements, but who has passed the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants before 1986.
The formulary changes in House Bill 431 will provide Physician Assistants the tools they need to reach a broader patient platform and by allowing doctors to supervise more physician assistants at a time, this will encourage hospitals and health care facilities to hire more physician assistants. House Bill 431 will bring many changes to physician assistants and we hope that you may benefit from these changes.
It should be noted that I am not your lawyer (unless you have presently retained my services through a retainer agreement). This post is not intended as legal advice, it is purely educational and informational, and no attorney-client relationship shall result after reading it. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. If you do not have one and would like to retain my legal services, please contact me using the contact information listed above.
All information and references made to laws, rules, regulations, and advisory opinions were accurate based on the law as it existed at this time, but laws are constantly evolving. Please contact me to be sure that the law which will govern your business is current. Thank you.