(WFXR) — A new Harris Poll has come out saying more than 35 percent of Virginia patients give the current healthcare system a D or an F. That’s more than the national average of 26 percent.

According to the report, which was commissioned by the American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA), affordability is the biggest barrier to accessing health care for Virginians.

“It’s way too expensive in this country, I think it should be healthcare for everyone. Everyone deserves to have quality healthcare,” Kathi Susano, a Christiansburg resident. “I have healthcare through my job and it’s high deductible high premiums and it still feels like you’re paying everything out of pocket.”

The study states that 44 percent of Virginians have skipped or delayed care in the last two years.
President of the Virginia Academy of PAs says the problem isn’t just in Virginia.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increasing shortage of providers, nurses, all of our need professions in healthcare. We just don’t have enough people to do it,” Sara Nicely said.

With such a shortage, Nicely, a Roanoke PA, and the entire AAPA are proposing a solution.

“We feel like the growing profession of pas can help with that as patients are looking for healthcare. If you’re not able to get an appointment, ask if a PA is available,” Nicely said.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the number of physician assistants is expected to grow 27 percent in the next ten years. Nicely said PAs provide high-quality healthcare and are board certified to do so. She believes the PA workforce is vital in addressing issues many Virginians have with the healthcare system including costs but also access, shortages, and disparities.

“Patients feel like they can’t really navigate the healthcare system really well and that is something us pas are trained to do — to help patients navigate through healthcare and find the best way meet the needs that they have individually,” Nicely said.

Nicely says PAs are currently limited in what they can do. She and the AAPA want to see that changed so they can fill some of the gaps in the healthcare workforce.

October 6-12 is National Physician Assistance Week. According to AAPA, the goal of the week is to highlight how pas meets the needs of patients, drives progress toward patient-centered healthcare, and how vital PA are to the workforce.


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