The people of Michigan are better off—and the physical therapy profession has reached an important milestone—now that legislation has been signed into law allowing allow patients in Michigan to go directly to a physical therapist (PT) for evaluation and treatment without a physician’s referral. The legislative victory now means that all 50 states and the District of Columbia allow for some form of direct access to PTs for evaluation and treatment.
SB 690, signed into law by Gov Rick Snyder, was sponsored by Sen John Moolenaar and promoted by the Michigan Chapter of APTA (MPTA). The new law creates the option for patients to see a PT without a referral or prescription from a physician for up to 21 days or 10 treatment visits, and will also allow patients to see a PT directly for injury prevention and fitness promotion, with no time or visit limit. SB 690 also strengthens the profession by specifying that only licensed PTs may use the term “doctor of physical therapy” in connection with their services. A similar bill was sponsored in the Michigan House of Representatives by Rep Margaret O’Brien.
The passage of this legislation is the culmination of many years of hard-fought effort on the part of MPTA that at times faced significant opposition.
“The goal of direct access to physical therapy in Michigan has been 34 years in the making,” said MPTA President Sue Talley, PT, DPT, C/NDT, in a news release. “This achievement would not have been possible without the commitment of multiple MPTA presidents, legislative chairs, the grass roots efforts of our members and patients, and Sen Moolenaar and Rep O’Brien."
“This is a significant milestone for the people of Michigan and for the physical therapy profession,” said Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS, president of APTA. “APTA has long advocated for improved patient access to physical therapists, and I applaud Michigan’s achievement in making this policy a reality.”
The milestone of achieving some form of direct access to treatment in all 51 US jurisdictions comes on the heels of achieving direct access to evaluation throughout the US in 2013. While notable in its own right, the achievement sets the stage for association efforts to improve access in some states that have more restrictive direct access laws that "are not based on evidence or on the best interests of the patient,” according to Rockar.
The new Michigan law will take effect January 1, 2015. APTA provided a direct access grant to the Michigan Chapter to support its efforts on SB 690.
Gov Rick Snyder signs SB 690, making Michigan the 51st jurisdiction to allow some form of direct access to PTs.
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