New Bill Would Bring Collaborative Practice to PAs in Delaware

Posted By American Med Spa Association, Friday, December 18, 2020

A new bill pre-filed in Delaware for the 2021-2022 session would change the current supervisory relationship between physician assistants (PAs) and physicians to a collaborative one. Representative Kendra Johnson is the primary sponsor of the bill, which is known as House Bill 33 (HB 33). This bill has initially been assigned to the House Sunset Committee for Policy Analysis and Government Accountability for further deliberation. You can read the complete text of the bill here.
HB 33 would bring substantial changes to Delaware’s current PA practice laws. Currently, PAs must be supervised by a physician, pursuant to a written agreement. Through such an agreement, the physician can authorize the PAs to diagnose, prescribe and delegate medical tasks to others. The PA is otherwise extremely limited in the scope of their practice. HB 33 would change this relationship to one of collaboration. A written agreement with a physician is still required, but the PA would be able to provide medical services that they have the education, training, and experience to perform. The physician is to be readily accessible for consultation with the PA but is not required to be physically present onsite while the PA practices.
The bill makes it clear that it does not create independent practice for PAs, nor does it allow a PA to practice in a location where the physician does not have oversight. However, as has been seen with nurse practitioners, collaboration is often an early step on the path to more autonomy and independence. HB 33 also makes changes to the composition of the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline by adding two PAs to the board and reducing the number of public members from seven to two. The PAs on the board would be selected by the Regulatory Council for Physician Assistants.
We will be monitoring HB 33 as it works its way through Delaware’s legislative process next year. While it may seem that the bill merely makes minor edits to the existing PA practice law, they are significant and would lead to substantially more autonomy for PAs.