April 4, 2017
The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) has recently retained lobbyists in Illinois, New Mexico and West Virginia to influence pending legislation, encouraging lawmakers to require current NCCPA certification as a condition of license renewal for PAs (physician assistants). In all three cases, the unexpected opposition appeared to cause legislators to question the pending legislation. AAPA is working closely with the three PA state chapters to support their positions on the legislation.
AAPA policy has never supported a statutory requirement for current NCCPA certification for license renewal, and in May of 2016, the AAPA House of Delegates passed a resolution in support of uncoupling maintenance of certification requirements from maintenance of license and prescribing privileges in state laws.
At its March 2017 meeting, AAPA’s Board of Directors voted to strongly oppose NCCPA’s state lobbying activities and gave their full support to AAPA’s continued work with state chapters to combat NCCPA’s efforts to jeopardize a PA’s ability to practice. In letters to NCCPA Chair Mary Warner, AAPA President Josanne Pagel asked NCCPA to stop its state lobbying activities which malign the PA profession and are harmful to the patients they serve.
In New Mexico, NCCPA action led to additional amendments unrelated to recertification. This resulted in a weaker bill than the original bill supported by the New Mexico Academy of PAs. NCCPA was successful in having current certification amended back into the PA bill, which has been passed by the state legislature and awaits the governor’s signature.
In West Virginia, the NCCPA lobbied to have current certification for license renewal reinserted into a PA modernization bill supported by the West Virginia Academy of PAs. This action has delayed the enactment of legislation to advance PA practice in the state. Although the NCCPA attempted to influence the legislation at several levels, the state legislators did not amend the bill, and once enacted, West Virginia PAs will no longer be required to have current certification for license renewal. The bill has been sent to the governor for signature.
In Illinois, NCCPA is lobbying to add current NCCPA certification as a new requirement for license renewal in legislation that reauthorizes the state PA law. This high stakes bill must pass in order for PAs to continue to practice. The Illinois Academy of PAs opposes NCCPA’s efforts and is working to use the reauthorization bill as an opportunity to improve state PA law. Unfortunately, NCCPA’s lobbying is needlessly complicating the process.
Current NCCPA certification is currently required for license renewal in 19 states. This linkage creates a high-stakes process. This was not always the case. The 19 states that require current NCCPA certification for license renewal all enacted this provision before 1998, when NCCPA began limiting PAs to a maximum of four attempts at passing the Physician Assistant National Recertification Examination (PANRE) within a ten-year period. Prior to 1998, there was no limit on the number of times a PA could fail the exam without losing their certification so long as they logged CME with NCCPA and continued attempts at the PANRE.
For more information contact Ann Davis, MS, PA-C, vice president for constituent organization outreach and advocacy.