Updated: Sep 9
Department of State opposes licensing CAAs in Pa.
Members of the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists (PANA) testified today before the House Professional Licensure Committee to oppose legislation (H.B. 1956) that would license Certified Anesthesiologist Assistants (CAAs) for the first time in Pennsylvania.
Testifying were Jessica Poole DNAP, CRNA, director of State Government Affairs for PANA and lead Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at BPW Medical Associates, P.C.; Matthew McCoy DNP, CRNA, past president of PANA and assistant director of the Crozer Chester Medical Center/Villanova University Nurse Anesthesia Program; and Christopher A. Heiss, MSN, CRNA, a PANA trustee and a CRNA practicing everywhere from large tertiary care facilities to rural critical access hospitals throughout Pennsylvania.
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PANA’s testifiers urged the committee to oppose the legislation. House Bill 1956 will not improve patient safety or enhance care. It will not reduce health-care costs, but instead, contribute to costlier care models. And it will not improve access to anesthesia services or address critical care shortages in underserved areas.
There is no meaningful research data concerning CAA anesthesia safety. Because CAAs must be directly supervised by an anesthesiologist, the provider redundancy of the CAA/anesthesiologist team is one of the costliest anesthesia delivery models. That also greatly limits their utilization in rural and underserved communities where anesthesiologists don’t practice.
The Pennsylvania Department of State also testified and opposed the licensing standards, noting that the agency “views creating another licensure class for professionals who are already nationally credentialed as repetitive and unnecessary.” The department also made clear that “CAAs would appear to fall within the definition of technician. While the practice acts and board regulations do not prohibit CAAs from practicing in the Commonwealth, the Department of State and the State Board of Medicine do not have the authority to regulate hospitals and other health care facilities. That authority falls under the Department of Health, in the Health Care Facilities Act.
A representative from the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) also testified. Although HAP did not oppose the legislation, the organization did call for allowing CRNAs to practice to the fullest extent of their education and training to increase the number of qualified anesthesia providers in Pennsylvania.
Out-of-state CAAs also testified with Pennsylvania-based anesthesiologists.
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PA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
This is only the first step in a long legislative process. The hearing was informational only and the committee did not vote on the measure, which means under consideration. (Legislation must be approved by the committee before it goes to the full House for consideration.) No legislation has been introduced in the state Senate.