Physician Assistant Issues

Our attorneys are well-versed in the health law issues facing physician assistants (PAs) and we are committed to staying on the forefront of the new developments impacting PA practice.

Practice Agreements

While many of the legal and regulatory issues facing physicians also impact PAs, physician assistants also encounter issues and challenges unique to their practice.  The recent passage of Public Act 379 of 2016 in Michigan removed the “supervision” and “delegation” requirements from the Public Health Code in favor of a written Practice Agreement between a PA and a “participating physician.”  The statute outlines the specific information that is required to be included in a Practice Agreement while also leaving some flexibility in its form to account for the individual practice arrangement and clinical setting.

Business Entity Formation

Business entity formation is another important consideration for PAs.  Under Michigan law, physician assistants can form a professional corporation or professional limited liability company with one or more physicians or podiatrists, if the “participating physician” who is a party to their Practice Agreement is a shareholder or member of the same entity.  While PAs, like physicians, have personal liability for their own professional malpractice, the appropriate corporate structure can reduce personal exposure for the debts and obligations of the business.

Employment Contracts

Like physicians, many physician assistant positions in both the hospital and private practice settings are governed by employment contracts.  These agreements often set forth key terms that will dictate the nature of the employment relationship and may also impose limitations and responsibilities that come into play after employment ends in the form of a non-compete clause, an indemnification provision or the obligation to purchase professional liability “tail” coverage.  Provisions addressing buy-in opportunities and equity ownership in a practice can also raise important legal or regulatory considerations for PAs.  It is important to identify and understand the contract terms up front, before the contract is signed, and to determine whether it may be possible to negotiate with the employer to remove or narrow overly-restrictive terms.

Our attorneys can provide sound advice and personalized solutions to PAs as they navigate the various health law issues impacting their business and clinical practice.  We can assist PAs in a variety of matters, including:

  • Drafting and negotiating employment agreements
  • Drafting Practice Agreements between PAs and participating physicians
  • Assisting with entity formation including professional corporations and professional limited liability companies
  • Assisting with state licensure investigations or staff privilege matters
  • Forming group practices and appropriate distribution methodologies that are consistent with applicable state and federal laws
  • Analyzing relationships for appropriateness with various health care regulations
  • Assisting with HIPAA compliance
  • Acting as general counsel for group practices, including counseling on difficult patient and employee issues
  • Drafting and updating of compliance programs
  • Identifying compliance issues and addressing billing questions and issues related to reimbursement and overpayments
  • Advising on audit defense of Medicare and other third party payor audits