Breaking News
  • We are now accepting applications for our full-term Trustee and Student Trustee positions! See below for more information!


Bill Finerfrock

X icon

Bill Finerfrock served as the Director of Federal Affairs for the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) from 1985 – 1993. His interest in politics goes back to a very young age.  At 12 years old, he was inspired by Bobby Kennedy’s run for president in 1968.  He and his brother were able to attend a rally in Clifton Heights, PA, and got to shake the senator’s hand. [See photo to right. Finerfrock is circled.]

After high school, Finerfrock entered Penn State University dreaming of becoming a veterinarian. However, his grades that first year made vet school a non-starter.  In search of an alternative career, he remembered people saying when choosing a career, do something you love. As he loved politics, he thought, why not a political science degree? When he broached this idea with his parents, his father asked what he was going to do with a political science degree. In searching for an answer to his father, he reached out to newly elected Congressman Bob Edgar. The congressman’s staff informed Finerfrock of a new program, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Congressional Internship Program, and that they were accepting applications for the Summer 1976 intern.  He applied and was selected.  That summer working for Congressman Edgar gave him clarity on his future plans. He initially planned to stay in Washington D.C. to learn all he could before returning home to run for a public office position.  However, he ultimately chose to remain in D.C. where he married and raised his family.

Finerfrock initially learned about the PA profession in 1974 from a friend who had just completed a pre-med degree and announced that he was going to Hahnemann University in Philadelphia to attend PA school.  Finerfrock was intrigued by his friend’s explanation of the profession.  A few years later, while serving as Senator Roger Jepsen’s health policy advisor, Finerfrock met Ed Friedmann and Libby Coyte, a PA couple from Iowa. Finerfrock enjoyed their story and was impressed with what they were doing as PAs. He stayed in touch with the couple and, on a trip to Iowa, he met with Friedmann to learn more about what PAs were doing both nationally and in Iowa.

In 1984 Senator Jepsen lost his re-election bid and Finerfrock was left looking for a new professional challenge. He learned that the AAPA was searching for its first federal lobbyist. He was attracted to the position initially because he believed the PA profession was meeting an important healthcare access need.

Finerfrock is responsible for many advancements in the PA profession. His proudest were attaining partial Medicare coverage for PAs and the right for PAs in all branches of the Uniformed Services to receive commissioned officer status. Additionally, he:

  • proposed and led successful legislative and regulatory efforts to strengthen and improve the Rural Health Clinic Program (RHC). By law, every RHC must employ a PA, Nurse Practitioner (NP), or Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) 50% of the time as a condition for approval as an RHC.
  • led the effort to gain PA eligibility for National Health Service Corps Scholarships and Loan Repayment in exchange for service in health professional shortage areas.
  • successfully lobbied Congress to retain and ultimately increase funding for PA educational programs.
  • convinced the United States Navy to rescind a decision, announced just prior to his joining the AAPA staff, to phase out utilization of physician assistants.
  • led the successful effort to have the Department of Transportation recognize PAs as qualified providers to perform mandatory physical examinations for truck drivers.

During Finerfrock’s tenure at the AAPA he worked closely with PA Ron Nelson to establish the National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC).  An idea initially conceived at Nelson’s kitchen table; it is now one of the most influential rural health organizations in the United States. Finerfrock served as the executive director of NARHC from 1991 until he retired in 2022.

After leaving the Academy in 1993, Finerfrock joined Capitol Associated Inc. (CAI), a government relations consulting firm, as Senior Vice President for Health Policy. In 2014, he purchased the firm and served as its owner/president until his retirement in July 2022.

Finerfrock has received numerous awards and accolades, such as the AAPA President’s Award (2002) in recognition of his contributions to the advancement of the PA profession. In 2011, he was selected as the inaugural recipient NARHC’s Ron Nelson Award which recognizes and honors an outstanding leader and promoter of Rural Health Clinics. In 2022, the NARHC created the Bill Finerfrock Health Policy Fellowship Program to “celebrate the remarkable legacy of Mr. Bill Finerfrock.”

Acknowledgments: This biography was prepared by Rich Vause with the assistance of Bill Finerfrock and submitted to the Society in April 2024. Photographs are courtesy of Mr. Finerfrock.

When using information from this biography, please provide the proper citation as described within the PA History Society Terms of Use.