In a major win for patients of physical therapy, California Assembly Bill 783 was defeated on Monday, June 27, during a reconsideration vote in the Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development. The final vote was 3 against, 3 for, and 3 abstentions. The defeat of the legislation in the Senate Committee essentially means that the legislation is "dead" for the year, although there is the possibility that the bill language from AB 783 could be amended onto a different bill in 2012. Such a legislative move would be unlikely, however, given the controversy generated by the bill. The fierce and often heated legislative battle gained the attention of the news media and was the subject of extensive coverage by the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles.
Assembly Bill 783, sponsored by Assembly Member Mary Hayashi and strongly supported by the California Medical Association and California Podiatric Association, was introduced on February 17. The legislation would have amended the California Business and Professions Code and the California Corporations Code to specifically add licensed physical therapists (PTs) to the list of "healing arts practitioners" who may be employees of medical or podiatric medical corporations. The legislation is in response to an opinion issued by the State of California Legislative Counsel in 2010 that stated that based on existing law it is illegal for PTs to be employed by any professionals other than naturopaths. In its opinion, the Legislative Counsel confirmed that, because the existing California Corporations Code does not specifically include PTs on the list of those who may be employed by a medical corporation, a PT is prohibited from providing physical therapy services as an employee of a medical corporation, podiatric corporation, or chiropractic corporation. This ruling means that PTs in these employment situations may be subject to discipline by the Physical Therapy Board of California.
The defeat of AB 783 does not necessarily mean the end of this battle in California. States that have anti-POPTS statutes, such as South Carolina, have had to defend such laws from legislative and legal attempts to repeal them for the past several years.
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