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ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 2, 2012 — Patients in Alabama will soon be able to be evaluated and, in certain cases, treated by physical therapists without first having to obtain a physician referral. With the enactment of Alabama House Bill 163, Alabama becomes the 47th state to achieve some form of direct access to physical therapist services, says the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). HB 163, sponsored by state Rep Ed Henry was signed by Alabama Gov Robert Bentley on Monday, April 30, and goes into effect July 1, 2012.
"Enactment of HB 163 is a huge win for patients in Alabama," said APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "The elimination of the outdated and unnecessary referral requirement in state laws has been a priority of APTA for decades. This is an exciting outcome for our colleagues in Alabama and it's great that as a result of the strong and sustained advocacy effort by our Alabama Chapter, patients in Alabama will now have increased access to physical therapist services."
Prior to implementation of HB 163, physical therapists were prohibited from performing a physical therapy evaluation without a referral. The new law provides for direct access to evaluation, fitness, wellness, and prevention services, and for treatment under certain conditions.
"After many years of hard work, we are elated this legislation has finally passed," said Janine Nesin, PT, DPT, OCS, president of the Alabama Chapter of APTA. "It was the combined effort of many physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, students, and consumers from around the state that resulted in this tremendous step forward for our profession in Alabama."
The chapter held lobby days, hosted legislative education workshops for licensees, and arranged a major rally at the state capitol in 2011 in support of direct access as part of their the multiyear campaign to pass the legislation.
"Every step was critical in this advocacy effort given the huge obstacles we faced," said Nesin. "I especially want to recognize the commitment, dedication, and teamwork of the volunteer members who served on our chapter's Direct Access Task Force, including the cochairs Emmett Parker, PT, MS, ATC, and Dave Morris, PT, PhD."
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 80,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at www.moveforwardpt.com. Consumers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@moveforwardpt) and Facebook.
The Alabama Chapter of APTA is a nonprofit professional organization serving more than 800 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy members in Alabama.