Direct access to physical therapy services approved
Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1000 into law Monday, enabling Californians to directly access physical therapy services.
Currently, individuals seeking relief from pain and injuries are required to get a physician diagnosis before a physical therapist may treat them.
Effective Jan. 1, 2014, this will no longer be the case, as consumers will be able to directly seek physical therapist services without any delay.
The bill, co-sponsored by the California Physical Therapy Association, had tremendous bi-partisan support throughout the entire legislative process and was lauded in the Assembly as an historic compromise brought about by a collaborative agreement within the medical community on behalf of Californians.
Although individuals directly accessing a physical therapist will be limited to 45 calendar days or 12 visits before having to be seen by a physician to get a signed plan of care, approximately 90 percent of patients don’t require services beyond these limits, according to the physical therapy association.
Also beginning January 2014, only physical therapists can own a physical therapy professional corporation.
Chiropractors, physicians or any other health-care professionals will be prohibited from owning such a corporation; however, they can be employees, officers, directors or shareholders of up to 49 percent of a physical therapy professional corporation.
Physical therapists also will be able to actively participate in multidisciplinary practices by hiring other licensed practitioners in physical therapy professional corporations.
In light of concerns about referral for profit, where providers refer individuals to services and facilities in which they have an ownership interest, CPTA pushed to include provisions in AB 1000 to strengthen current anti-referral-for-profit laws.
Beginning next year, physicians will be required to disclose their ownership in writing, as well as verbally, to inform patients that they have a choice of physical therapists.
All Western states now offer direct access to physical therapist treatment.
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