Montana lawmakers consider allowing physician assistants to practice independently

In the face of a healthcare provider shortage, Montana lawmakers have introduced a bill to give physician assistants (PA) more independence to practice unsupervised.

Currently under Montana law, PAs must be supervised by a licensed physician and have a supervision agreement filed with the state Board of Medical Examiners. If passed, House Bill 313 would allow PAs to practice without that supervision agreement. North Dakota and Wyoming have laws similar to the proposed bill that allow PAs to practice independently.

More than 750 PAs practice in Montana, with the majority (95.5%) practicing in rural areas, according to the American Academy of PAs.

House Bill 313 is facing some opposition from physicians who see it as expanding PAs scope of practice without additional training requirements. The bill’s sponsor is considering amending it to require PAs to work under supervision for two years before practicing independently if they don’t already have two years of experience.

Source: Kaiser Health News

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