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  • Bill Introduced in Senate Would Allow PTs to Bring in Another PT During Absences

    A version of a bill that would allow physical therapists (PTs) in private practice to provide Medicare patients continuity of care in the PT's absence has been introduced in the US Senate. Like its companion bill introduced in the US House of Representatives last year, the Prevent Interruptions in Physical Therapy Act (H.R. 3426/S. 2818) would expand so-called "locum tenens" arrangements to include PTs.

    Locum tenens provisions allow health care providers to bring in another licensed provider to treat Medicare patients and bill Medicare through the practice provider number during temporary absences for illness, pregnancy, vacation, or continuing medical education. Current law only extends locum tenens to doctors of medicine, osteopathy, dental surgery, podiatric medicine, optometry, and chiropractic, forcing PTs in private practice to avoid absences or risk gaps in patient and client care.

    APTA and its Private Practice Section (PPS) collaborated on pressing for the legislation which was introduced by Sens Chuck Grassley (IA) and Bob Casey (PA). "This legislation seeks to eliminate an unnecessary limitation on our ability to practice and provide excellent continuous care," said PPS President Tom DiAngelis, PT, DPT. "We commend Senators Grassley and Casey for taking an important step to ensure a patient’s access to uninterrupted physical therapy."

    APTA has advocated for this issue as an easy technical fix bill that should be linked to larger Medicare reforms that are moving through congress. The locum tenens legislation has continued to gain awareness and cosponsorship in the House, and APTA will now advocate for Senate support.

    APTA will monitor the progress of the bill and will post updates to its locum tenens webpage. Resources on the website include a podcast on the importance of this legislation and information on how PTs can get involved in advocating for its passage.

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