Oklahomans now have direct access to evaluation and treatment by physical therapists (PTs). On May 23, Oklahoma Gov Mary Fallin signed HB 1020, which allows patients to be evaluated and treated by a PT for 30 days without a referral from a physician or other provider. Previously, state law required a physician referral for any kind of treatment, though PTs were allowed to provide an evaluation without a referral. The new law takes effect November 1, 2014.
"Ensuring patient access is a cornerstone of APTA's vision and mission," said APTA President Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS, in a news release. "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 was promoted by the Oklahoma Chapter of APTA (OPTA). 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." Christian also acknowledged the leadership of Jeffrey Jankowski, PT, immediate past president of OPTA.
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.
The success in Oklahoma means that 49 states and the District of Columbia now allow some level of treatment by a PT without referral. Direct access legislation is pending in Michigan, the final state with no form of direct access to treatment by PTs. Michigan SB 690 recently received a unanimous vote in the Senate and now awaits action in the state House of Representatives.
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