ILLINOIS Bill Would Bring Physician Assistants Independence

Posted By Madilyn Moeller, Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Bill Name: Senate Bill 218 (SB 218)

Primary Sponsor: Senators Ann Gillespie and Laura Murphy

Status: 2/7/2023 Assigned to Committee on Licensed Activities

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 sponsors’ past records, it has a higher likelihood of passing.

Analysis: Currently, Illinois 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 SB 218, PAs would no longer need a physician supervisor to oversee their practice.

Initially, under SB 218, PAs would be required to work in collaboration with a physician. This would need to be described in a written collaborative agreement. PAs working in hospitals, hospital affiliates and ambulatory surgical centers would not be required to have a written collaborative agreement. The specific elements of this collaboration are currently left up to the physician or later adopted administrative rules.

Once a PA has completed at least 250 hours of continuing educations or training and 2,000 hours of clinical practice, they may file with the board for what is termed as “optimal practice.” Optimal practice allows the PA to practice without a written collaborative agreement in all practice locations. PAs would be able to prescribe drugs including Schedule II-V controlled substances. Their scope of practice would not include operative surgery but would still allow assisting with surgery. Additionally, PAs would be able to diagnose and treat patients, obtain informed consent, supervise and delegate tasks to others, certify disability, and authenticate any document that a physician could authenticate. The PAs would be able to practice and perform these tasks as independent practitioners without needing another licensee to authorize or oversee them.

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. SB 218 would be at the leading edge of this trend by providing full 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.