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5/2/2019 House OKs Bennett bill updating physician assistant law
STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. David A. Bennett updating state law concerning physician assistants.

The legislation would specify that physician assistants work collaboratively with physicians instead of under their supervision, providing a measure of freedom that will help them see more patients and help address the shortage of health care providers in the state.

“Physician assistants are an important part of the teams that provide care to Rhode Islanders today. They are well-trained professionals who help ensure that patients can get the care they need in a timely manner. This bill more accurately reflects the role they play, and provides physician’s practices with greater flexibility so they can better meet the health care needs of Rhode Islanders,” said Representative Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), who works as a psychiatric nurse.

The bill (2019-H 5572), which has the support of the American Medical Society, does not allow physician assistants to represent themselves as doctors or to attempt to offer procedures or services outside their competence or that are prohibited by law, but it does allow them to be considered primary care providers if they practice within the medical specialties required for a physician to be a primary care provider. It adds a requirement that a physician must be accessible at all times for consultation by the physician assistant.

It removes doctors’ liability for the work of physician assistants within their practice, and increases the minimum number of continuing education hours required annually for physician assistants from 10 to 25.

Additionally, the bill adds new legal language that allows physician assistants to volunteer their services at a children’s summer camps, public or community events or in a licensed ambulatory health center that provides free care.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston) is sponsoring companion legislation (2019-S 0443). The bill is cosponsored in the House by House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) and Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence).

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923