Governor Newsom Approves SB 697, Expanding the Role of Physician Assistants

October 9, 2019

SACRAMENTO—Today, Senate Bill 697 by state Senator Anna M. Caballero, D-Salinas, was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. SB 697 eliminates outmoded requirements that Physician Assistants (PA) work under by creating a more flexible work arrangement, and ends the disparities between PAs and other medical providers.

Many physicians and PAs currently work in group practices or hospital settings where archaic state laws interfere with practice-level decisions about how patient-care teams can best meet the quality and access needs of patients. The bill will enhance the flexibility of healthcare teams at the practice level in order to increase healthcare access, especially in rural communities, during a critical time for Californians.

A recent report from the University of California San Francisco concluded that the state could see a potential shortfall of 4,700 clinicians as soon as 2025. This past month, a report released by the California Future Health Workforce Commission Final Report, highlighted PAs as one of the priority professions that can help grow, support and sustain California's health workforce. The report found that care organizations that employ more PAs and allow them to provide a full range of primary care services have “lower costs, lower use of services and advanced diagnostic imaging, fewer emergency department visits, and fewer inpatient hospital stays.”

“I want to thank the Governor for signing SB 697, and for his commitment to increasing access to primary and preventative healthcare services for Californian’s living in rural areas,” stated Caballero. “I would also like to thank the California Academy of Physician Assistants for working with me on this important issue. We achieved our goal of modernizing the day to day practice of PA’s and creating an incentive for physicians to partner with PA’s, which will bring our state closer to healthcare equity in underserved areas.”