What is a PA?Physician assistants, or PAs, are health care professionals licensed, or in the case of those employed by the federal government, are credentialed to practice medicine with physician collaboration. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs perform physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, give advice on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and write prescriptions. PAs exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services within the Physician-PA relationship. A PA’s practice may also include education, research, and administrative services. The PA profession was founded in 1965 at Duke University in North Carolina to address the shortage and uneven distribution of physicians. Ten years later, there were approximately 1500 practicing physician assistants. The first PA Practice Act in Illinois was passed that same year, 1987. Currently, there are 3,300 licensed PAs in Illinois. Although PAs working in family and general medicine constitute the largest group, PAs are also found in specialities of medicine and surgery. In fact, the November 2009 CNN Best Job report ranked Physician Assistant second in the list of top 50 jobs forecasting a 27% growth in demand for the position in the next decade. (https://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bestjobs/2009/full_list/index.html).
- Obtaining medical histories
- Performing physical examinations
- Providing preventive health services and promoting wellness
- Ordering, assessing the results and sometimes performing diagnostic and laboratory tests
- Diagnosing and treating medical or surgical conditions
- Assisting in surgery
- Providing emergency and critical care
- Prescriptive privileges for all legend drugs and controlled substances II-V
- Patient counseling and patient education
- Making rounds in hospitals and nursing homes.
- Private and group practice settings
- Veterans’ Administration and military settings
- Nursing homes
- Community health centers
- Rural health centers
- School based health centers
- Occupational medicine settings
- Correctional institutions
- Can PAs prescribe medications?
- PAs can prescribe medications in all 50 states and US territories. In Illinois PAs can prescribe Schedule II, III, IV, and V controlled substances.
- What is the definition of physician supervision in Illinois?
- PAs always work with a supervising/collaborating physician but the physician need not be personally present at the place where the PA practices medicine. A PA may manage patients and perform procedures he or she is authorized to do without the physician being physically present. However a physician needs to be readily available by telecommunications.
- Do PAs in Illinois need a written supervisory/collaborative agreement?
- Yes and No. In Illinois, PAs that work in most settings and prescribe medications require a written supervisory/collaborative agreement. However, there are certain exceptions for hospital based PAs who do not require outside prescription authority.
- Do PAs in hospitals or hospital affiliates need controlled substance licenses to give medications?
- When ordering controlled substances for hospitalized patients or writing prescriptions for discharge, a controlled substance license is not necessarily needed. However, this also depends on your hospital bylaws and/or facility policies.
- Can PAs see their own panel of patients?
- Yes, PAs can see patients independently and are often considered a patient’s PCP.
- Can PAs bill/charge for services?
- Yes, A PA’s employer can submit claims using the PA’s NPI number and list them as the “rendering provider” of services. However, all payments must go directly to the employer who submitted the claim. Payments cannot be made directly to the PA.
PA and Illinois Medicaid
Can PAs see Medicaid Patients?
Yes. PAs can see all Medicaid patients including new patients.
Can PAs bill for Medicaid patients?
Yes. PAs need to submit claims with their supervising/collaborating physician listed as the “billing provider” and the PA listed as the “rendering provider”.