The American Association of Medical Assistants® (AAMA) engages in state and federal advocacy to protect patients from substandard medical assisting services. This objective is achieved by drafting legislation and regulations that ensure that potentially patient-jeopardizing tasks are delegable to only knowledgeable and competent medical assistants who meet the following three standards:
- Have completed education of appropriate and adequate depth, breadth, and rigor
- Have been awarded an accredited credential—such as the CMA (AAMA)®—that measures required medical assisting knowledge and its application
- Have demonstrated continuing competence by periodic recertification
As a result of accomplishing this objective, knowledgeable and competent medical assistants are differentiated in law from other medical assistants.
As part of the AAMA mission, AAMA staff monitor and pursue advocacy opportunities on the federal and state levels that are most strategically advantageous. The following are some examples of AAMA advocacy that have increased patient protection by requiring medical assistants to have appropriate as well as adequate education and/or credentialing.
In 2017, AAMA staff urged the Arizona Medical Board (AMB) to more precisely define approved medical assistant program in its delegation rules. The AMB saw the wisdom of the AAMA position and changed the wording of its regulations.
Because of a 2004 ruling by the North Dakota attorney general, medical assistants were no longer permitted to be delegated and perform medication administration. Partly through the efforts of AAMA staff, medication assistant regulations were amended to permit medical assistants who had completed an accredited program and held an accredited medical assisting credential to be delegated certain types of medication administration.
CMS meaningful use requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs
The initial set of proposed rules published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2010 to implement the computerized provider order entry (CPOE) requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs allowed only “licensed health care professionals” to enter orders into the CPOE system for meaningful use calculation purposes. Staff of the AAMA petitioned CMS to recognize “credentialed medical assistants,” as well as licensed professionals, for meaningful use order entry. In 2012, CMS was persuaded and changed the wording of its final rule to include “credentialed medical assistants.” This was the first time that credentialed medical assistants were distinguished from noncredentialed medical assistants in federal law.
For more information on these achievements, read the Public Affairs articles “Comments to the Arizona Medical Board” (November/December 2017), “North Dakota CMAs regain injections” (September/October 2005), and “AAMA triumphs in CMS order entry rule” (November/December 2012) in past CMA Today issues.