Publication

03 March 2017

Changes to Michigan’s Physician Assistant Laws

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Health care providers who employ or contract with Physician Assistants (PAs) have about two weeks left to comply with recent changes to the Michigan Public Health Code. Specifically, PAs need to enter into a practice agreement and apply for a Michigan Controlled Substance License by March 22, 2017.

The Michigan Public Health Codes was recently updated (http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/publicact/pdf/2016-PA-0379.pdf) to change the way Physician Assistants practice in Michigan.  Under the new law PAs may practice without the supervision of a delegating physician as long as they enter into a “practice agreement” with a participating physician or podiatrist. The practice agreement must be in place by March 22nd and must contain six (6) critical elements:

  1. A process between the PA and participating physician for communication, availability, and decision making when providing medical treatment to a patient.
  2. A protocol for designating an alternative physician in situations in which the participating physician is not available for consultation.
  3. The signature of the PA and the participating physician.
  4. A termination provision that allows the PA or participating physician to terminate the practice agreement by providing written notice at least 30 days before the date of termination.
  5. The duties and responsibilities of the PA and participating physician.
  6. A requirement that the participating physician verify the PA’s credentials.

The law also removed language prohibiting a physician from delegating responsibility of quality of care to a PA, removed restrictions on the number of PAs a physician could supervise and recognized PAs as “prescribers” under Michigan law.  The new law also authorized the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to create rules regarding the prescription authority of PAs.  However, they have yet to do so.

Miller Johnson has advised several clients on these changes and has helped draft practice agreements.  If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Tim Gutwald at gutwaldt@millerjohnson.com or another member of the Health Care Providers practice group.