March 19, 2021

Surgical Privileges for Physician Assistants?
A Look at Scope of Practice in the Texas Legislature
481 Words, a 3-Minute Read

Scope of practice battles involving mid-level providers and physicians typically represent the most emotional debates in the Texas Legislature. Many lawmakers describe scope of practice issues as their “least favorite bills.”

Unfortunately, physicians in dozens of states around the nation are losing scope of practice battles, and those physician losses in other states give mid-level providers ammunition to ask lawmakers why Texas is one of the only states that does not allow certain privileges.

The scope of practice debates have reached a new level of intensity in the 2021 Texas Legislature: APRNs (seeking independent practice) and optometrists (seeking surgical privileges) are making their strongest pushes ever. Even the physician assistants are pushing for surgical privileges in 2021.

The Battles Begin Next Week
Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), the chair of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee), and Rep. Stephanie Klick, RN (R-Fort Worth), the chair of the House Public Health Committee, will push bills related to APRN independence and surgical privileges for optometrists in their committee hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday.

All TOA members are encouraged to contact their state representatives and senators about the dangers of the scope of practice bills this weekend. Click here to send an e-mail. Even better, if you have a relationship with your state lawmakers, please make phone calls to them.

Physician Assistants: Surgical Privileges
HB 4352 by Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton) would give surgical privileges to physician assistants if they collaborate with a physician. In addition, physician assistants would be able to diagnose, treat and prescribe on their own if they find a physician with whom to collaborate. The bill would take away the existing supervision requirement.

Optometrists: Surgical Privileges
Optometrists are making a strong push for over 100 surgeries involving scalpels, lasers, radiation and injections. In addition, the bill would give the Texas Optometry Board sole authority in determining future optometric scope authority, removing all future oversight by the Texas Legislature and the Texas Medical Board.

The optometry bill (HB 2340 and SB 993) is sponsored by the two committee chairs: Rep. Klick and Sen. Hancock. SB 993 will be considered in the Senate committee hearing on Tuesday.

APRNs & CRNAs: Independent Practice
Rep. Klick and Sen. Hancock are also pushing an initiative that would give independent practice to APRNs and CRNAs: HB 2029 and SB 915. HB 2029 will be heard in the House committee hearing on Wednesday.

A New Wild Card: An Omnibus Scope of Practice Bill
Rep. Klick filed an omnibus bill that incorporates almost all of the scope of practice concepts – APRN/CRNA independence, surgical privileges for optometrists and more – into one large bill, HB 4362.

Contact Your Lawmakers Today
Click here to talk to your lawmakers about the dangers of the scope of practice bills today. Always remember: be respectful. While political campaigns in November may get nasty, the public policy debates in the Texas Legislature tend to be far more civil.

Seventy-two days remain in the 2021 Texas Legislature.

Click here to view TOA's bill tracker.

Click here to view TOA's musculoskeletal primer for state lawmakers.

Click here to send an e-mail about opioid policy to your state lawmakers.
Bobby Hillert | Executive Director
Texas Orthopaedic Association
[email protected] | 214.728.7672 m