WASHINGTON Bill Would Allow Physician Assistants to Collaborate

Posted By Madilyn Moeller, Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Bill Name: House Bill 1310 (HB 1310)

Primary Sponsor: Representative Marcus Riccelli

Status: 1/20/2023 Referred to House Committee on Health Care & Wellness

AmSpa’s Take: Reducing the amount of regulation and paperwork that advanced practitioners such as physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) need to comply with to practice frees up time and resources that can be better spent seeing patients, improving their skills and developing their practices.

Outlook: This bill is in the first steps of the process but, based on the sponsor’s past records, it has a higher likelihood of passing. Some of the sponsors hold leadership positions on the committee where this bill was assigned, and all sponsors are in the majority party.

Analysis: Currently, Washington 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 1310, PAs would instead work in collaboration with a physician.

This new collaborative relationship, like the supervisory one, requires a written agreement between the physician and PA. In fact, the provisions of these agreements are largely similar to the current requirements:

  1. Listing the duties and responsibilities of the PA and physician;
  2. A process for communication and decision making;
  3. Designating an alternate physician;
  4. The signatures of both the PA and physician; and
  5. A termination provision. 

HB 1310 adds a requirement that PAs with fewer than 4,000 hours of clinical experiences would need to have a plan for a minimum number of hours each month that the PA and physician must collaborate in person or through technology.

The greatest changes that HB 1310 makes are in the definition of “collaboration,” which is characterized as involving interaction, consultation or referral to a physician or other appropriate health care member as indicated by the patient’s condition. Collaboration does not assign supervisory or legal responsibility to the PA, and PAs are specifically permitted to own their own practices. The provisions of HB 1310, if passed, would become effective January 1, 2025.

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. HB 1310 is squarely within this trend. 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.