Montana legislature proposes physician assistant independence

The Montana legislature has proposed legislation that will allow for more physician assistants to practice without physician supervision, Kaiser Health Network reported Feb. 10. 

The state is in the midst of a physician shortage, according to the publication. The bill is sponsored by House Rep. Jodee Etchart, who is also a physician assistant, and is similar to laws in North Dakota and Wyoming. 

Physicians opposed to the bill feel PAs lack field experience and are concerned that the bill includes no additional training requirements. 

According to the American Academy of PAs, more than 750 physician assistants practice in Montana, 95.5 percent of them in rural areas.

Legislators are considering amending the bill to require physician assistants to practice for two years before practicing without physician supervision. 

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