CARES Act Would Eliminate Workforce Barriers for PAs

The Collaboration and Rural Expansion of Services (CARES) Act (LRB 0196), which would update Wisconsin statutes related to physician assistants (PAs), is currently circulating in the Legislature. The bill seeks to reduce workforce barriers for PAs, thus maintaining and increasing access to high quality medical care, particularly in underserved rural areas of the state.

The bill has bipartisan support from across the state, with lead authors Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie), Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) & Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Reps. Nancy VanderMeer (R-Tomah), James Edming (R-Glen Flora) & Dave Considine (D-Baraboo). Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants is advocating for the legislation to update their profession. Wisconsin Hospital Association also supports the legislation.

Over 2,700 PAs practice in Wisconsin, working with physicians to provide quality, cost effective team-based care to patients across the state. PAs practice in every area of medicine performing activities such as physical exams, diagnosing and treating illnesses, assisting in surgery, and prescribing medication.

The CARES Act would allow more flexibility at the practice site for physicians and PAs to optimize team-based care by changing the PA/physician relationship from “supervision” to “collaboration.” Collaboration would be required to take the form of either a written collaborative agreement or under the overall direction and management of a physician. (The bill would NOT create independent PA practice nor would it change PAs’ current scope of practice.) The bill also eliminates the four-to-one physician-to-PA ratio under current law. Additionally, the bill creates a PA Examining Board, giving PAs regulatory authority over their own profession. PAs are currently regulated by the Medical Examining Board.

“We’re seeking an improved pathway for collaboration and a continued partnership with our physician colleagues going forward,” Eric Elliot, chair of the Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants legislative and government affairs committee, told Wisconsin Health News.

For more information on the CARES Act, visit