Action Center

Washington Update - July 2023
July 5, 2023 by Catherine Majewski
  • Star Grassroots Advocates
    • On June 29, PAEA hosted a virtual congressional briefing entitled, "Expanding Access to Care: The Role of the National Health Service Corps." The briefing focused on the impact of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) in expanding access to care in rural and underserved communities and featured former NHSC participants who shared their experiences with the program. Special thanks to Frank Giannelli, PhD, PA-C, who is an Assistant Professor for the Rutgers University PA program and Shani Fleming, MSHS, MPS, PA-C, who is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland-Baltimore PA program for serving as speakers for the briefing and highlighting the urgent need for Congress to prevent a lapse in mandatory funding for the NHSC by September 30. 
    • As part of a series of meetings that PAEA is conducting with Congressional Black Caucus leadership offices on the development of PA programs at HBCUs, PAEA Immediate Past President Kara L. Caruthers, MSPAS, PA-C met with Rep. Hayes’ and Sen. Warnock’s offices on June 27 to discuss the need for continued investments in PA program development at HBCUs and share the challenges that have been encountered at the Meharry Medical College PA program from her perspective as an Associate Professor and Associate Program Director. PAEA appreciates Kara’s continued dedication to our advocacy efforts. 
  • Advancing PAEA’s Advocacy Agenda
    • On June 15, PAEA submitted a comment letter to the Department of Education to express strong concerns with the Department’s proposed regulation related to clinical education that would impact the ability of PA programs to arrange remote clinical rotations. Specifically, the regulation would require institutions to, “provide students, within 45 days of successful completion of other required coursework, geographically accessible clinical or externship opportunities related to and required for completion of the credential or licensure in a recognized occupation.” This would have unintended consequences for both health equity and educational affordability.
    • From June 25-27, PAEA participated in the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) Health Foundation Mental Health Steering Committee meeting in Atlanta to share the work that PAEA has undertaken to strengthen substance-use disorder education among PA programs. The steering committee is comprised of leaders of the six largest PA organizations and PA and interprofessional champions and aims to effect systemic change that improves the nation’s health by advancing the roles of PAs and strengthening partnerships to address issues impacting mental health and substance-use disorders.
  • Health Care News in Washington
    • On June 23, Representatives Annie Kuster and Tim Burchett reintroduced the bipartisan Expanding Access to Graduate Education Act. The PAEA endorsed bill would allow Pell Grant recipients to use their remaining Pell eligibility towards their first graduate degree. Currently, graduate students have limited options beyond loans to finance higher education.
    • The Supreme Court released decisions in the Harvard and University of North Carolina cases concerning affirmative action in higher education admissions on June 29. As anticipated, the Court has moved to broadly prohibit the use of race-conscious admissions policies. Recognizing that this ruling significantly impacts admissions in PA education, PAEA has created an Affirmative Action Decision webpage that provides a collection of resources to help programs continue to promote EDI through the admissions process.
    • On June 30, the Supreme Court struck down President Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 of debt for federal student loan borrowers who had received a Pell Grant to attend college, and up to $10,000 for most remaining borrowers.
  • Opportunities for Action
    • At a time when workforce shortages continue to impact the health care landscape in rural and underserved areas, programs like the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) must be supported and protected. However, with a lapse in mandatory funding for the NHSC looming in September 2023, this valuable provider recruitment tool faces a funding cliff that has the potential to reduce access to care. Please reach out to your representatives today in support of a long-term extension of the NHSC as proposed in the bipartisan Restoring America’s Health Care Workforce and Readiness Act.
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