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Hearing held on Readshaw bills on physician assistants


 State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, told a Pittsburgh hearing of the House Professional Licensure Committee on Wednesday that over-regulation is holding back the use of physician assistants to alleviate the burden on hospitals in treating minor emergency patients and in preventative medical care overall.

 Mr. Readshaw has introduced two bills (H.B.s 1251 and 1252) as part of Gov. Ed Rendell's Prescription for Pennsylvania health-care package. Rep. Readshaw's bills would eliminate the restriction of having no more than two physician assistants under the supervision of any one physician.

 ”When these limits were imposed more than 20 years ago, the use of physician assistants was still pretty much unexplored territory,” Mr. Readshaw said. “Since then, we've found how effective physician assistants can be in health screening and preventative care and that they can handle many of the small everyday emergencies that stress hospital emergency room resources.”

 He said emergency room treatment is the most costly way to address a medical problem and it impacts medical insurance premiums and, in the case of uninsured patients, hospital finances and taxpayers.

 Readshaw, a longtime member of the Professional Licensure Committee, emphasized that he considers the hearing to be part of the process of determining how best to legislate the expanded use of physician assistants.

 ”We'll take what we learned today and other input and fine-tune the bill to ensure that there is proper quality assurance and supervision and that the legislation can accomplish its goal of making health care more accessible and affordable.”

 Testimony at the hearing was offered by Gregory Howe, senior policy manager of the Governor's Office of Health Care Reform; Dr. Mark Piasio, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society; and Mark DeSantis, chairman of Governmental Affairs for the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants.


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