The Montana Academy of Physician Assistants (MTAPA) represents the professional interests of PAs throughout Montana.
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2015 Spring Newsletter
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MTAPA Spring 2015 Newsletter


In this Issue:

President's Corner

AAPA's Leadership and Advocacy Conference

2015 Legislative Update

25th Anniversary CME Event

Rocky Mountain College Student Forum

President's Corner

Well, it has been a long time since we have put out a newsletter.  Despite the lack of newsletters, there has been plenty of activity with MTAPA.  We have a handful of changes and updates to report.  First is our newly appointed President-Elect.  Heather Hart, PA-C from Bozeman has stepped up to the position and is eager to begin as President July 1, 2015.  We are grateful for her accepting the position.

The 64th Montana State legislative session is well under way.  In fact, there are only a few weeks left in the session.  As you are likely aware, Gov. Bullock's Medicaid expansion billed failed in a late evening House hearing.  There is now a bill moving along that looks to cover these individuals who would have been covered by this expansion.  This is Senate Bill 405, of the HELP Act.  See below for more details.  By the time this is out, it is likely the HELP Act will be in a different position than stated here.

This June, MTAPA will be hosting our 25th annual CME Conference and General Membership Meeting.  This year's event will be held in Missoula and is sure to be a historic event.  We will be hosting a dinner where some of our longstanding PAs from around the state will participate in a discussion that reviews our first years as an organization and as a profession within Montana.

 We are 2/3’s of the way through the 2015

Will Hunt, PA-C, MPT

President MTAPA


AAPA Leadership and Advocacy Conference - February 2015

The Leadership and Advocacy Conference in DC was very inspiring and I was in awe of the diversity of the PA profession. We have come a long way in my 30+ years and we are understood as quality providers, which of course we are.

I had the opportunity to meet with both Senator's and Representative Zinke's aides.
Representative Zinke is still very new and his aide needed more education time. He is Harrison Matheny ( He needs to hear from PA's as this is a good time to reinforce his education.  Senator Tester's aide Monica Carmean is knowledgeable and personable and is open to contacts and questions.( She also sees a PA.  Senator Daine's aide Brad Kehr is intelligent , well informed and bit cagey on questions regarding support of certain bills.(

Two billls that are important to us are HB1202, Medicare Patient Access to Hospice which is a big step in writing the orders to have a patient into hospice and or participate in their care. HB 1201 is about the ability for PA/NP's to write for durable medical equipment.  These both need to be passed and the Mr. Zinke's office needs to hear from us regarding our support.

The big news is that there was a bill last year and another attempt now to pass a Medicare SGR reform bill. SGR is the Sustainable Growth Rate bill that determines Medicare reimbursement for providers.They have been doing temporary annual passing at the last minute with no serious attempt at reform for the last 4 years.
Last year a bipartisan/bicameral team had proposed many reforms that would look to save money, improve efficiency, and increase the scope of PA/NP's practice. The SGR contains the equivalent to HB1202 in it. This SGR Bill is very important to PA's and how we practice.  This is where we need to let  Senator's Tester and Daines as well as Representative Zinke know how we feel.

On the Montana side we have had Art Wittich not allow the medicaid expansion bill out of committee, despite 6+ hours of testimony. There is now SB 405, or the 'HELP Act'.
With the supreme court case on Federal Health Care subsidies King Vs Burwell, this bill looks at all the states that do not have a Medicaid expansion within the state but are using a federal exchange with federal subsidies. If they vote against federal subsidies, the Montanans who have signed up may lose the subsidy to keep their insurance. This also affects the hospitals as they are receiving some reimbursement.

While it was very invigorating to be in Washington, it is also a view of posturing. My father used to say don't confuse action with progress.  The AAPA has really advanced our case and has some extremely articulate advocates who have done a great job. We need to support them as we can.

Heather Hart, PA-C

President-Elect MTAPA


2015 Montana Legislature Happenings

As of March 25th, the biggest health care issue considered in the 2015 Legislature remains unresolved.  Governor Bullock’s plan for a full Medicaid expansion has been defeated, and one bill which expands Medicaid, Senate Bill 405 (sponsored by Republican Senator Edward Buttrey) remains.  Senate Bill 405 is titled HELP (Montana Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership Act) and would accept federal dollars to “expand Medicaid to cover to anyone earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, an annual income of $16,200 for a single person.”1  The HELP Act remains in the Finance and Claims Senate Committee, and would need to advance out of the committee if it is going to even be considered by the Senate before review by the House.  MTAPA has lobbied for Medicaid expansion, and has advocated for passage of SB 405.  (**Of note, this Bill has now advanced to the House and will be heard on Tuesday, April 7th at 11:00am by the Human Services Committee**)

Other issues pertaining to PAs include Senate Bill 77 which deletes a requirement for NCCPA certificate renewal for PA licensure.  This bill revised a number of laws related to the board of medical examiners at the BME request.  The bill has passed both houses and awaits the governor’s signature.  MTAPA did not take a position on this bill.

MTAPA did support SB 7 and SB 8.  SB 7 allows changes to fees for the Prescription Drug Registry (passed Senate, remains in House) while SB 8 allows electronic prescribing for scheduled medications (anticipated to be on the governor’s desk soon). 

Other bills that have been supported by MTAPA and remain active having passed at least one body include SB 207 (tort reform) and HB 130 (restrictions on minors from tanning beds).

There were some bills likely to become law which may limit PA practice in some regards.  SB 83, revises health insurance laws, but at some points does not make it entirely clear whether PAs (as well as doctors) can fully advocate for their patients in regards to insurance appeals.  HB 90 revises some worker’s comp laws and at times uses language that defines PAs as appropriate providers if there are not nearby physicians.  MTAPA did attempt to intervene on issues like these, however, often the bills were further along in the legislative process and we were unsuccessful at getting changes made.

In years to come, I hope to expand the legislative committee to include a few other MTAPA members.  At this point, I have been the only non-board participant on the legislative committee.    The board, as well as the AAPA, have been helpful in identifying and acting on important issues in Montana.  However, with a few other legislative committee members, we would be better equipped to respond to various prospective bills and ensure that sensible laws continue to guide PA practice in Montana.

Aaron Derry PA-C  

Legislative Chair, MTAPA   

CME Event                                                                          

This year’s conference will be held in Missoula Montana on June, 17, 18 and 19 2015 at the Holiday Inn Parkside Downtown. 2015 marks the 25th year of the MTAPA Annual CME Conference.   We will be celebrating this accomplishment with a dinner on the evening of the 17th and are excited to have several long time physician assistants from Montana joining us to discuss the history of our profession in the state of Montana.   We will enjoy Out to Lunch at Caras Park on Wednesday afternoon as well.   

We have confirmed 23 speakers who will provide education on 24 different topics and plan to request 20+ credit hours for this conference from the AAPA.  Topics include: Rheumatologic Masqueraders of Allergic Disease Lawful Prescribing and the Prevention of Diversion,  New Hypertension Guidelines,  Pneumococcal vaccine and Immunization Review, Understanding and Affordable Care Act, The Art  of Complementary Medicine- What PAs Need to Know and  The Latest in Stroke Prevention, just to name a few.   Registration for participants will include breakfast each morning, lunch each afternoon and the dinner on Wednesday evening.    MTAPA will also hold our General Membership and Board of Directors Meeting on Thursday evening, all MTAPA members are encouraged to attend. 



Tammy Scott, PA-C


Student's Forum

We have been working through some difficult modules (Nephrology,Neurology). Our class's AAPA Challenge Bowl team was recently determined. The team will be Mattie Murphy (Missoula), Susie Hilsgen (Minnesota), and Rhea Whenschlag (North Dakota). Also, faculty awarded the “Student of the Year” awards to students that embodied the kindness and compassion of a good PA. These students are Austin O’Shea (Red Lodge) and Elizabeth Gerstner (Billings). Additionally, many of us also recently signed postcards to Congressman Zinke and Senators Daines and Tester regarding the funding cliff for community health centers, teaching health centers and GME. Other than that, we have just been plugging along. 

-Kristin Nelson,  PA Student


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