November 22, 2019

New CMS Final Rule to Allow Physician Assistants to Prescribe Medications to Hospice Patients

On November 15, CMS issued a Final Rule that will permit hospices to accept drug orders from a physician, a nurse practitioner (“NP”), or a physician assistant (“PA”). In 2018, CMS had issued a Final Rule amending the regulatory definition of “attending physician” for purposes of hospice care to include PAs. However, the amended regulations did not permit hospices to accept drug orders from PAs. The 2019 Final Rule amends section 418.106(b)(1) of the hospice Conditions of Participation (42 C.F.R. § 418.106(b)(1)) to include PAs, along with physicians and NPs, among the practitioners who may order drugs for hospice patients, effective January 1, 2020. This change had been endorsed by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, which stated in its 2019 Regulatory Blueprint for Action that this revision “is consistent with the changes made by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, the scope of practice of the hospice attending physician, and the scope of practice of physician assistants.”