May 30, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Scope of Practice
The California Medical Association and a group of health care provider organizations have come together to form the "Coalition for Patient Access and Quality Care," working to stop three bills that would expand the scope-of-practice of non-physician practitioners.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has given us the opportunity to think creatively about the delivery of care. In what is perhaps the most rapidly changing time in health care history, we should be collectively looking for ways to decrease cost, increase efficiency and most importantly, keep patients safe.
California physicians strongly supported the ACA because it promised: first, to expand access to health coverage to all, while second, ensuring the high quality of medical practice in our state. Those who now invoke the ACA as the sole justification for allowing non-physicians to perform complex medical procedures on California patients are attempting to achieve the first goal by undermining the second. Allowing practitioners to perform procedures they simply aren’t trained to do can only lead to unpredictable outcomes, higher costs and greater fragmentation of care.
CMA and the other coalition members are working together to make sure lawmakers realize that providing allied health practitioners with independent and/or expanded practice will not provide newly insured patients, who are more likely to have complex medical conditions, with access to the health care they deserve.
As health care delivery becomes more complex, expanding the team of health care professionals that serves patients makes sense. However, it is not in the best interest of patients to abandon the current physician-led team approach to health care.
Rather than expanding the scope of practice of allied health practitioners, California should be looking toward an integrated team-based care led by physicians. These teams will streamline care, maintain and improve patient safety and decrease the costs of care.
Other members of the coalition include the California Academy of Family Physicians, Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of California, California Academy of Eye Physicians & Surgeons, California Society of Anesthesiologists, Canvasback Missions Inc., Diabetes Coalition of California, Lighthouse for Christ Mission Eye Center, Union of American Physicians and Dentists – AFSCME Local 206, California Psychiatric Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians – California Chapter.
For more information about the coalition visit http://www.qualitycareaccess.org.