• News New Blog Banner

  • New Michigan Law Means All 51 US Jurisdictions Allow Direct Access to PTs

    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.

    2014 - Michigan Direct Access Signing 
    Gov Rick Snyder signs SB 690, making Michigan the 51st jurisdiction
    to allow some form of direct access to PTs.


    • Congrats on passing this bill. This is a great step for rehabilitation specialists in Michigan. Next on the agenda...help Athletic Trainers practice to their scope by supporting their efforts to treat patients by lifting the direct supervision label. PTAs with less education and training than ATs have general supervision.

      Posted by Eric on 7/1/2014 10:20 PM

    • Does this mean all states will have direct access for 21 days ???

      Posted by Brian on 7/1/2014 10:45 PM

    • Great!!! Way to GO MI. Hard fought for sure. Justin J. PT, DPT, GCS Central Michigan University Grad 2008

      Posted by Justin Johnson -> @GT_?N on 7/2/2014 9:38 AM

    • Way to go Michigan! Kudos to all the Michigan chapter members who worked so hard on this over the years, and took time out of their busy schedules to advocate in support of the bill. This was a tough battle and you all stuck it out and saw it through!

      Posted by James on 7/2/2014 2:55 PM

    • Now Medicare direct access?

      Posted by R2 on 7/9/2014 2:55 AM

    • congratulations to past and present PTs involved with this hard fought and very long battle. Now we can focus on positive patient functional outcomes!

      Posted by Renee on 7/9/2014 12:25 PM

    • It is about time.

      Posted by Richard Pastars on 8/5/2014 8:42 AM

    • First of all, thank you for all of your work as it relates to Direct Access and the law that is passing January 1, 2015. My team is getting little to no direction from the payors in terms of reimbursement for direct access patients (without a physician prescription) come January. Although the concept of the law makes sense obviously (all 50 states agree), how can we treat patients when payors like BCBS can choose not to reimburse us for our medically necessary treatment without a physician prescription? Doesn't that defeat the whole intent of direct access? Thank you.

      Posted by Jeff on 10/28/2014 1:03 PM

    • Where does the TPTA say Texas PT's gave direct access now?

      Posted by Kalleen Zamzow on 12/6/2014 3:13 PM

    • Texas does not have direct access like was just passed in Michigan. We are evaluation only, and I am not aware of a payer who reimburses for an evaluation only. Hoping to make progress in 2015 on more unrestricted direct access.

      Posted by Shannon Boyd on 1/19/2015 10:01 AM

    • BCBS of Michigan, largest insurer in the state, already issued statement they will not reimburse treatment without doctor's prescription. I expect other will follow suit - so access but no payment...

      Posted by Dominik on 1/22/2015 9:19 AM

    • If I am understanding correctly. This law only applies to people that are using insurance. If a patient is self pay and not involving insurance, do they unlimited visits?

      Posted by Patricia m on 3/23/2015 6:41 AM

    Leave a comment
    Name *
    Email *