By: Chris Ferreira
The 2023 AAPA House of Delegates (HOD) met in Nashville, TN from Friday, May 19 through Sunday, May 21 at the AAPA Conference. The HOD articulates the shared values, beliefs, and professional wisdom of PAs from all corners of the greater AAPA community. Made up of representatives from AAPA’s constituent organizations and Student Academy, the HOD enacts policies and position statements on behalf of the profession.
The HOD consists of voting delegates from 58 chapters representing 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and five federal services, 27 officially recognized specialty organizations, 13 caucuses comprised of individuals sharing a common goal or interest related to health care access or delivery, and the Student Academy; additionally, the current and immediate past House Officers are delegates-at-large and vote.
Your representatives from Rhode Island were RI Chief Delegate Christopher Ferreira, RIAPA Immediate Past President, and RI Delegate Raymond Cord, RIAPA President. While much was discussed, reworked, recommended, and voted upon over three days, here are some highlights.
· While AAPA now has official policy encouraging its members to become members of State Chapters, Specialty Organizations, Caucuses, and/or Special Interest Groups, a different resolution was rejected which would have recommended that AAPA establish a dues assessment system whereby a member or prospective member of AAPA may make one payment for both dues owed for membership in the AAPA and for a Constituent Organization (CO), like RIAPA. The logistics for managing dues transfers between AAPA and every CO is not currently possible.
· Policy was adopted supporting equal accessibility of test-taking tools in exam software utilized during PA education, initial certification, and maintenance of certification.
· Preceptors of accredited PA Programs have already been able to claim Category I CME; the policy was amended to now include preceptors of accredited clinical postgraduate training programs.
· A resolution was proposed that would have supported the Doctor of Medical Science as the PA-specific doctoral degree. After much discussion regarding potential significant problems with this proposal, this resolution has been referred to committee for further exploration and has not been adopted as policy.
· AAPA Policy was amended to highlight the importance of PA services being properly tracked to assess the impact of those services on patients on the healthcare system. Additionally, this policy states that claims for services performed by a PA should be submitted under the name/NPI number of the PA, that payers allow for direct payment to PAs, and that payers cover medical and surgical services provided by PAs in all practice settings.
· Policy regarding medical staff bylaws and the credentialing and privileging of PAs was updated to highlight, among other items, that the duration of medical staff appointments and clinical privileges should be the same for physicians and PAs, that bylaws should give PAs the right to due process when actions taken by the medical staff or governing board adversely affect the PA’s clinical privileges, and that bylaws should include language enabling PAs to provide care during emergency or disaster situations, as well as EMTALA specific provisions as required. This policy had already underscored that PAs should be voting members of the medical staff and that bylaws should afford PA representation with full voting rights on medical staff committees, including the medical executive committee.
· Policy was adopted affirming that AAPA opposes restrictions and attempts to restrict the availability of and access to gender affirming healthcare. Similar policy was adopted further affirming that the inclusion of transgender and non-binary youth athletes in sports consistent with their gender identity promotes overall health and well-being.
· AAPA promotes equal-opportunity support for aspiring PAs and encourages the efforts of PAs who provide free mentorship and/or coaching. AAPA strongly encourages equal-opportunity support for aspiring PAs and recognizes the potential negative impact of for-profit pre-PA coaching on diversity in the profession. The HOD recommends a task force to identify barriers and explore potential opportunities to promote continued inclusion which may include scholarship and/or grant opportunities, pre-PA coaching through AAPA platforms, free AAPA mentorship, and/or additional resources for aspiring PAs.
These are just a few examples of what goes on “behind the scenes” in your profession. Now, more than ever, it is important to maintain active membership in both the Rhode Island Academy of PAs (RIAPA) and the American Academy of PAs (AAPA). As a RIAPA Fellow Member, you have the privilege of voting for your delegates to the HOD and are able to contribute to your profession in other ways both right here at home and also on the national stage.