FLORIDA Bill May Bring Physician Assistants Independence

Posted By Madilyn Moeller, Friday, February 17, 2023

Bill Name: House Bill 481 (HB 481)

Primary Sponsor: Representative Lauren Melo

Status: 2/1/2023 Referred to Committee on Health and Human Services and Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee

AmSpa’s Take: Allowing advanced practitioners such as physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) to practice to the level of their education and skill, without the need to maintain cumbersome chart review and meeting requirements, frees up time and resources that can be better spent seeing patients, improving their skills and developing their practices. Independence also allows these practitioners to innovate in new practice areas through owning their own practices.

Outlook: This bill is in the first steps of the process but, based on the sponsor’s past record, it has a lower likelihood of passing.

Analysis: Currently, Florida physician assistants (PAs) practice under the supervision of a physician. This supervising physician delegates the health care tasks that the PA may perform. The relationship is formalized using a supervision agreement, which lays out what is authorized. Under HB 481, PAs would no longer need a physician supervisor to oversee their practice.

PAs would be able to procure medical devices and drugs, prescribe and dispense in the physician’s practice. Unusually, HB 481 removes all reference to having a supervising physician for the PA to practice; however, it leaves in statutory sections on the PA being supervised in clinics and prescribing within a physician’s practice. So, on the one hand, the PA appears to be independent—not needing a supervisory relationship to practice—and yet they would still need to work within a framework of having a physician overseeing them. It is likely that this discrepancy will be further addressed if this bill makes progress through the House.

The majority of states allow nurse practitioners to practice independently; more recently, many states have been giving more freedom and autonomy to PAs, as well. Most states have begun to provide reduced oversight or more flexibility, but still retain the physician oversight. HB 481 would solidly in this trend in providing additional autonomy. If you would like additional information, to read the language of the bill or to contact the sponsors or committee, you can find the information you need through this link.