California State Senate Approves SB 697, Expanding the Role of Physician Assistants

May 24, 2019

SACRAMENTO—Today, Senate Bill 697 by state Senator Anna M. Caballero, D-Salinas, received bipartisan support by the state Senate with a vote of 37-0. SB 697, eliminates the outmoded requirement that each PA work with a single physician, and ends the disparities between PAs and other medical providers in similar professional regulations.

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 seeks to enhance the flexibility of healthcare teams at the practice level in order to increase healthcare access 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.”

“Access to basic primary care is one of the top concerns for Californian’s living in rural areas,” stated Caballero. “By modernizing the day to day practice of PA’s and creating a more flexible work arrangement, we are hoping to incentivize physicians to utilize PA’s to their full potential which will expand healthcare access in rural underserved areas.”

Senator Anna M. Caballero represents the 12th Senate District, composed of Merced and San Benito Counties, the Salinas Valley, and portions of Fresno, Madera, and Stanislaus Counties.