PA Presence in Hawaii
Despite our 25-plus year presence in Hawaii and the very real contribution PAs have made to health service delivery here...we are still untapped in many quarters. In some areas, the medical community has had little or no experience with PAs. Some parts of the health care system, however, appreciate our presence and contribution of many years. HAPA is working to educate the community about the role and positive contributions that physician assistants add to the health care delivery system in Hawaii.
There is a strong need for PAs to monitor state and federal laws in this rapidly changing environment of medical delivery and sweeping health care reform. If we don't, we may find ourselves left out of important legislation.
HAPA has been very active in recent years in hiring a lobbyist to help us educate the legislature. HAPA was successful in passing a 28 page bill in 2009 which modernized definitions, rules and statutes to actively reflect current PA practice.
Provider shortages in the islands are bringing increasing opportunities for non physician providers but PAs must remain competitive. APRNs were successful in obtaining primary care status in the 2009 session including full prescriptive authority. This means that they no longer require physician oversight which lessens the burden on a physician considering hiring a non-physician provider. This may give APRNs a competitive edge in the health care workforce. The PA model as originally conceived is in transition and in need of change in light of health care reform and current community practice. Legislative awareness and involvement is of key importance.
Support of HAPA through membership will help in this goal. Many of us are busy with family and work and simply cannot volunteer time to the organization. HAPA understands this. Support through membership allows us to pursue our legislative and lobbying efforts for the benefit of all Hawaii PAs. There is strength in numbers and the more PAs that support HAPA, our AAPA approved and state chartered organization, the stronger we will be.