Nurse practitioners and physician assistants in emergency medical services who billed independently, 2012–2016

Published:January 31, 2019DOI:



      As nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) become an integral part of delivering emergency medical services, we examined the involvement of NPs and PAs who billed independently in emergency departments (EDs).


      We used Medicare provider utilization and payment data from 2012 to 2016 to conduct a retrospective analysis. We examined the changes in the number of each clinician type who billed independently for four common emergency services (CPT codes: 99282-5), the change in their service volume, and the change in their average number of services billed.


      Between 2012 and 2016, the proportion of NPs and PAs billing independently increased from 18% to 22% for ED visits of low severity (99282), 23% to 29% for visits with moderate severity (99283), 21% to 27% for visits with high severity (99284), 18% to 24% for visit with the highest severity (99285), and 23% to 29% across all four services. The proportion of services provided by emergency physicians decreased from 66% to 63% across all four services, and from 11% to 9% for internists and family physicians. The number of NPs, PAs billing independently, and emergency physicians increased by 65%, 35% and 12% respectively.


      NPs and PAs are increasingly billing emergency services of all levels of severity, independent of physicians. This trend is driven by a growing number of NPs and PAs independently billing services, despite a relatively stable number of emergency physicians (excepting the decline in rural areas), and diminished involvement of family physicians and internists in EDs.
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