In just three months, the 2014 legislative session will be upon us. One thing is certain, it feels much better going into this session with a win under our belt. While we are thankful for the much-needed change in legislation, we’ve found passage of the new law has led legislators to believe that PAs would just go away, that eliminating the 18 month rule was the pinnacle of accomplishment for our organization and we would drive away into the sunset. As you know, eliminating the 18 month rule was just the beginning of a series of legislative changes needed to bring PA practice in Kentucky on par with surrounding states and the rest of the country.
As of this weekend, over 13,000 previously uninsured citizens have enrolled in Kentucky’s new Kynect exchange system that is part of the Affordable Care Act. Literally hundreds of thousands of news stories have discussed this rollout. How many included the words ‘Physician Assistant’? As we celebrate PA week this week, it is absolutely essential that we begin to powerfully inject ourselves into the national conversation of how to solve access to care issues.
How do we position ourselves to do that?
In the short-term, this week, this minute – Call your legislators 1-800-372-7181 and tell them you are a PA and thank them for passing legislation in the last session that positions Kentucky to be better prepared to handle the overwhelming need. Tell them you look forward to continuing the conversation in the next session. Then, write a letter to the editor of your local paper telling them what you do. Clarify your training. Talk about how you work within the physician-led team to provide the highest quality access to care for Kentucky patients.
In the long term – KAPA must GROW our grassroots network of support. To continue to pass legislation strengthening the profession in Kentucky we have to be stronger. We must all take responsibility for recruiting new members. Of the 1,200 PAs in Kentucky, approximately 200 are KAPA members. We must also set the goal of more participation in legislative initiatives, including our next lobby day scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014.
Failure to increase membership or avoiding participation in legislative calls to action means we will continue to be content with only nurses, NPs, and physicians being mentioned in those news articles. We have to get fired up and seize the moment for our profession. Not doing so could mean thousands of lost job opportunities for PAs, and hundreds of thousands of patients not getting the high quality care they deserve.
Carpe Diem! In celebration of PA week, please take action for the future TODAY.
Jamie Bloyd & Isaac Caton