Wednesday, June 15, 2016 Improved Direct Access to PTs Now Law in Louisiana After a sometimes-contentious struggle, individuals in Louisiana now have improved direct access to physical therapist (PT) services. On June 6, Louisiana Gov Bel Edwards signed SB 291, which allows PTs to treat without a referral or previous medical diagnosis for up to 30 calendar days, a significant improvement over what had been one of the most restrictive direct access laws in the country. After 30 days, a direct access patient must be referred to a physician, dentist, podiatrist, or chiropractor if there is no measurable or documented functional improvement of the patient. The legislation was sponsored by state Sen Fred H. Mills Jr (R) and advocated by the Louisiana Physical Therapy Association (LPTA). All physical therapists who have a DPT or 5 years of clinical practice experience are eligible for direct access. The win for citizens and Louisiana PTs was not an easy one: opponents of the bill, led by the state's orthopedic surgeons association, launched an active campaign to block passage, arguing that direct access would put patients at risk should a PT miss a health condition that would require attention from a physician. In the end, the bill passed in both the Louisiana House and Senate by wide margins. “The passage of SB 291 and allowing the citizens of Louisiana to choose physical therapy directly was by far the most widely debated bill of the 2016 legislative session," said Cristina Faucheux PT, LPTA legislative chair. "Its passage paves the way for the citizens of Louisiana to have unparalleled services and be in the driver’s seat of their health care dollars."