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Physician Assistant role in rural health care system - Essay Example

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To make quality health care available to millions of children and adults living in medically underserved rural areas, the federal government created the rural health clinics program in 1977. This program, authorized by Public Law 95-210, the Rural Health Clinic Services Act,…
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Physician Assistant role in rural health care system
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To make quality health care available to millions of children and adults living in medically underserved rural areas, the federal government created the rural health clinics program in 1977. This program, authorized by Public Law 95-210, the Rural Health Clinic Services Act, assures Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to certified clinics staffed by physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) working with physician supervision. The purpose of the rural health clinic (RHC) program is to increase primary care medical services in rural, physician shortage areas by utilizing PAs and NPs and providing cost-based compensation for care of Medicare and Medicaid patients.1
The most recent data from the AAPA show that 22 percent of PAs identify themselves as practicing in rural communities. Real numbers of PAs in rural areas has steadily climbed — from 6,700 in 1996 to over 10,000 in 2002.2
A significant proportion of physician assistants provide health care to rural Americans. In addition to supporting the work of physicians who have chosen a rural practice, many PAs are the sole primary care providers in rural communities.  By increasing access to primary care and preventive services, PAs help reduce overall medical costs.
It is in the best interest of rural managed care systems to provide cost-effective local health care services.  Sustaining the care provided to rural Americans by PAs not only increases access to primary care, it also promotes continuity of existing care.  When patients are satisfied with their current health care providers, they should be allowed, or even encouraged, to continue to utilize them in a managed care system.3
It is clear therefore, that PAs play a vital role in the rural health care. They will serve as a vital link in the overall health delivery system.
REFERENCES
1. Retrieved from American Academy of Physician Assistants. http://www.aapa.org/policy/rural-health-clinics.html
2. Retrieved from American Academy of Physician Assistants. http://www.aapa.org/gandp/rural.html
3. Retrieved from American Academy of Physician Assistants.
http://www.aapa.org/gandp/mhc-rural.html Read More
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