The Idaho Academy of Physician Assistants has been working hard to increase its visibility in the Idaho Capitol and around the state. The lawmaking process is an interactive process. Legislators need input from constituents in order to make informed decisions. Each year Idaho lawmakers consider several dozen healthcare-related pieces of legislation. Legislators come from all backgrounds - their ranks include farmers, teachers, lawyers, small business owners, insurance agents and many other professions - and only a couple have any experience in healthcare-related jobs. They need your expertise when they are evaluating a piece of healthcare legislation and trying to decide if it is good public policy for Idaho.
Not only do legislators need PAs but PAs need legislators. Every year there are proposals submitted that have an impact on your practice. Idaho has a PA-friendly practice environment due in large part to input from the IAPA and its dedicated members. Advocacy efforts have two main components - offense and defense. It is critical that PAs work with legislators to pass laws that are beneficial to PAs and their patients (offense) but it is equally critical that IAPA and its members be aware of and work to defeat or modify proposals that would harm PA practice in Idaho (defense).
IAPA Advocacy Activities
The IAPA is a member of a coalition of over 30 Idaho healthcare organizations working to significantly increase Idaho's tobacco tax. The proposed increase is for a $1.25 increase per pack of cigarettes and a parallel increase on other tobacco products. Studies show this tax increase will decrease youth smoking by almost 20 percent. The current cost to Idaho Medicaid for the treatment of tobacco-related illnesses is $83 million per year. Every Idaho household pays $539 per year for smoking-caused health care costs, regardless of whether any member of the household is a smoker. The proposed increase of $1.25 per pack is conservatively projected to raise approximately $51 million per year. This is an ongoing effort that will be an issue in the 2012 legislative session. This is about the health of Idaho's kids! If you see your legislators at regional events, the county fair or out and about in your community, please let them know this is an issue you care about.
The IAPA worked with the Idaho Board of Medicine to clarify that Idaho PAs can in fact own their own medical practices and employ physicians. More PA-owned practices are opening all the time in Idaho. This statute change is important not only to those entrepreneurial PAs who own their own practices but to all PAs as it elevates the profession and provides employment options.
We are currently evaluating regulatory changes that would modify supervision ratio restrictions of supervising and alternate supervising physicians. This change would benefit all PAs in the state as well as help with reimbursement issues caused by the existing language of this regulation.
Contacting your Legislator
The single most effective tool we have in making positive changes to PA practice in Idaho is your relationship with your legislators. Legislators are in office to represent their constitutents. They really care what you think about issues and they will listen and take your opinion into consideration when they vote. If you develop an on-going relationship with your legislators where you tell them what is important to you and listen to what is important to them, you not only learn about what's going on at the Capitol but you make your vote truly count. To contact your legislator, go to: http://legislature.idaho.gov/howtocontactlegislators.htm.