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NY debates expanding autonomy for physician assistants

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  • Staff Report 

New York is currently debating a proposal to grant physician assistants (PAs) greater autonomy in their practice, echoing temporary measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Kathy Hochul’s budget proposal suggests removing supervision requirements for PAs in primary care and certain non-surgical specialties after completing 8,000 clinical hours of clinical experience. This move, supported by the New York State Society of PAs, aims to leverage PAs’ training to address healthcare shortages in underserved areas.

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Opposition comes from groups like the Medical Society of the State of New York, which argues that PAs cannot replace the expertise of fully trained physicians. Critics, including Dr. Paul Pipia, emphasize the importance of physician-led care and caution against creating a “two-tier system” that could compromise patient care quality. They argue for improving conditions to attract more physicians to the state as a solution to the healthcare workforce shortage.

The debate also touches on educational considerations, with proposals to amend PA supervision requirements being discussed by the Higher Education Committees. Assembly Member Patricia Fahy supports targeted changes to address healthcare workforce shortages, especially in rural and upstate communities. The discussion highlights the need for balanced reforms that ensure access to quality care while addressing the challenges of healthcare delivery in New York.