Oklahoma 49th State to Grant Patients Direct Access to Physical Therapist Treatment

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 29, 2014 — On May 23, Oklahoma Gov Mary Fallin signed HB 1020, granting Oklahomans direct access to evaluation and treatment by physical therapists (PTs) without a physician referral. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and its state chapters have long been dedicated to ensuring patients the freedom to choose which health care professional to see and when. Enactment of HB 1020 means 49 states and DC now allow some level of treatment by a PT without referral. The new law takes effect November 1, 2014.

"I congratulate our colleagues in Oklahoma for their diligence in pursuing this important legislative change. Ensuring patient access is a cornerstone of APTA's vision and mission," said APTA President Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS. "I want to thank Rep Arthur Hulbert, PT, DPT, for authoring this bill, and Rep Sean Roberts, PT, for coauthoring. As physical therapists, Rep Hulbert and Rep Roberts truly understand how important this legislation is and the positive impact it will have on individuals who need the services of physical therapists."

The bill, which was promoted by the Oklahoma Chapter of APTA (OPTA), permits patients to be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist for 30 days without a referral from a physician or other provider. Previously, physical therapists in Oklahoma could provide an evaluation to patients without a referral, but state law required a physician referral for any kind of treatment.

OPTA President Debra Christian, PT, DPT, said, "This is an historic time for the Oklahoma Chapter and the culmination of many years of work by numerous individuals. I want to thank the OPTA Board of Directors for their commitment to this effort, as well as our membership who stepped up in a big way over the past couple of months."

Brandon Trachman, PT, MPT, OCS, OPTA legislative chair, added, "HB 1020 is an enormous victory for Oklahomans, who will now be able to take a more active role in their own health care and choose safe and effective treatment directly from physical therapists. The passage of HB 1020 would have never been possible without the diligent and tireless efforts of Reps Hulbert and Roberts, as well as Sen Kim David, who authored a version of this bill in the Senate."

APTA provided a direct access grant to the Oklahoma Chapter, as well as additional financial support for the chapter's lobby day at the state capitol. Direct access legislation is also pending in Michigan, the final state with no form of direct access to treatment by physical therapists. Michigan SB 690 recently received a unanimous vote in the Senate and now awaits action in the state House of Representatives.

The Oklahoma Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association (OPTA) is a professional membership association serving nearly 900 active and retired physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, and physical therapy students in Oklahoma.

The American Physical Therapy Association represents more than 88,000 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.

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