North Carolina Enacts Legislation Ensuring Patient Choice and Coverage of Physical Therapist Services

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, July 11, 2012—Patients in North Carolina will now have the right to choose their physical therapist under their health benefits plan, and ensure such services will be covered. With the enactment of North Carolina Senate Bill 656, patient access and choice to physical therapists services will be increased in North Carolina, says the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). SB 656, sponsored by State Senator Jim Davis (R), was signed by North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue (D) on Friday, June 29, and goes into effect October 1, 2012. 

"This is a win-win for all parties involved—patients, physical therapists, and payers," said APTA President Paul Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS. "This is the culmination of more than 2 years of a strong advocacy effort by our North Carolina Chapter and is another example of an APTA chapter addressing coverage and payment issues impacting our patients through the legislative process." 

SB 656 specifies that whenever an insurance policy provides for certification of disability that is within the scope of practice of a licensed physical therapist, the policyholder, insured, or beneficiary shall have the right to choose the provider of the services.  

This bill will improve access by ensuring patients are accessing the right services, at the right time, and by the right provider," said Dean McCall, PT, DPT, OCS, president of the North Carolina Chapter of APTA. "We started to see a problem where some patients were unnecessarily driving more than 90 miles and having to wait 3-4 weeks before being seen by other providers, when they could have been seen in their home town by their local physical therapist." 

In addition, SB 656 states that when any health benefit plan, subscriber contract, or policy of insurance issued by a health maintenance organization, hospital or medical service corporation, or insurer provides for coverage for, payment of, or reimbursement for physical therapist services, the insured or other persons entitled to benefits under the policy shall be entitled to coverage or reimbursement for the services. 

About APTAThe 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 Consumers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@moveforwardpt) and Facebook.  

The North Carolina Chapter of APTA is a nonprofit professional organization serving more than 2,224 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy members in North Carolina.