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Health News Florida

Florida House Backs More Power For Physician Assistants

Woman in doctor's office.

The bill would broaden the “scope of practice” for physician assistants, authorize them to prescribe 14-day supplies of psychiatric controlled substances for minors and bill insurers for services.

The Florida House overwhelmingly approved a bill Wednesday that would broaden the “scope of practice” for physician assistants, authorize them to prescribe 14-day supplies of psychiatric controlled substances for minors and bill insurers for services.

The House voted 106-5 to pass the bill (HB 431), after sponsor Bob Rommel, R-Naples, made a change Tuesday that would cap the number of physician assistants a doctor could supervise at one time.

Under the bill, doctors would be authorized to supervise up to 10 physician assistants at a time. Current law limits the number of physician assistants a doctor can supervise to four.

The bill also would delete a requirement in law that physician assistants be required to advise patients that they have the right to see physicians before being prescribed drugs by physician assistants.

The bill also makes clear that physician assistants could procure medical devices and drugs and prescribe what are known as Schedule II psychiatric controlled substances for minors so long as they are limited to two-week supplies.

The House bill also would allow physician assistants to sign Baker Act orders, death certificates, do-not-resuscitate orders, medical evaluations for workers’ compensation, school physical examinations, orders for physical therapy and occupational therapy and death certificates.

The Senate has a similar bill (SB 894) that needs approval from the Appropriations Committee before it could go to the full Senate. The main difference between the bills is the House’s cap on the number of physician assistants that can be supervised at a time. The Senate bill does not have a cap.

House members voting against the bill Wednesday were Rep. Christopher Benjamin, D-Miami Gardens; Rep. Ben. Diamond, D-St. Petersburg; Rep. Omari Hardy, D-West Palm Beach; Rep. Michele Rayner, D-St. Petersburg; and Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa.