Patients in North Carolina soon will have the right to choose their physical therapist (PT) under their health benefits plan and ensure that PT services will be covered. SB 656, sponsored by State Sen Jim Davis (R) and advocated for by the North Carolina Chapter, was signed by North Carolina Gov Beverly Perdue (D) on June 29 and goes into effect October 1. SB 656 specifies that whenever an insurance policy provides for certification of disability that is within the scope of practice of a licensed PT, the policyholder, insured, or beneficiary will have the right to choose the provider of the services.
According to Chapter President Dean McCall, PT, DPT, OCS, the chapter initiated the legislation after reports began surfacing that some patients were unnecessarily driving more than 90 miles and having to wait 3 to 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 will be entitled to coverage or reimbursement for the services.