ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 6, 2009 — The US Senate recently introduced
legislation that would increase access to physical therapy services for
Medicare beneficiaries by removing the need for a physician's referral
or certification of the plan of care in those states in which direct
access is authorized, says the American Physical Therapy Association
Under the Medicare Patient Access to Physical Therapists Act (S 950),
introduced by Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Lindsey Graham (R-SC),
and Arlen Specter (D-PA), Medicare Part B beneficiaries who need
outpatient physical therapy would have direct access to physical
therapist services as permitted by state law.
"Delaying treatment puts seniors and people with disabilities at risk
by impeding their ability to achieve optimal functional outcomes," said
APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "Removing this unnecessary and
burdensome requirement will allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive high
quality cost-effective physical therapy services in a timely
Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have eliminated the
physician referral/certification of plan requirement for patients to
access physical therapists for an evaluation, while 44 states and DC
allow access to some form of physical therapy treatment without
referral. This legislation would defer to the state law on access
regarding physical therapy.
"As we work to move health care toward a system that improves quality
and value, physical therapists are critical to increasing access to
care, especially in rural America," said Lincoln. "Our health reform
efforts should enable providers to work collaboratively across care
settings to deliver evidence-based health care services to the millions
of Medicare beneficiaries who need them."
The House introduced its version of the Senate bill on March 31.
Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care
professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore
mobility - in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects
of prescription medications. APTA represents more than 72,000 physical
therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical
therapy nationwide. Its purpose is to improve the health and quality of
life of individuals through the advancement of physical therapist
practice, education, and research. In most states, patients can make an
appointment directly with a physical therapist, without a physician
referral. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and
find a physical therapist in your area at www.moveforwardpt.com.