Scope of Practice

Medical Assistants Win Big in CMS Ruling

It thrills me to report that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently ruled that credentialed medical assistants are permitted to enter medication orders into the computerized provider order entry (CPOE) system.

This decision scores a great victory for medical assistants across the country. Previously, only licensed health care professionals—a group that excluded medical assistants—were allowed to perform entries into the CPOE system. Given that CMAs (AAMA) are formally educated in their discipline, have current certification from a national credentialing body, and have the knowledge and ability to enter orders into the CPOE system as directed by an overseeing heath care provider, the previous restrictions diminished not only the role of CMAs (AAMA) in the practice, but also the overall effectiveness of team-based care.

Prior to the ruling, the CMS considered a few different options. One option would have allowed “anyone, including those commonly referred to as scribes,” to enter orders into the medical record. The AAMA and the CMS both agreed this option would be unwise and risk exposing patients to substandard allied health services from unqualified professionals. Yet another option allowed for “any licensed, certified, or appropriately credentialed health care professional” to enter orders into the CPOE. The CMS decided this option was too broad, as well, since the concept of “credentialed health professionals” could include any number of workers with a similarly wide range of qualifications. In the end, the CMS made the decision to use the more limited description of including credentialed medical assistants.

Again, this is a great victory—and a great day—for medical assistants nationwide!

(Read the full CMS ruling as published in the Federal Register at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-09-04/pdf/2012-21050.pdf.)

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Associations and the ADA

Some recent court decisions regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) could affect credentialing examinations. The cases, which dealt with legally blind law school students requesting special accommodations for taking the bar exam, should be of interest to any association or certification body.

I recently penned an article for Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives. The article can be found here and shares a brief history of the court cases, as well as the legal implications for credentialing exams.

Thank you, colleagues!