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The cause of unrestricted direct access to physical therapist services continues to have another high-profile supporter — the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, the conservative-leaning group that drafts and promotes model legislation for use by state governments.

In response to APTA's urging, ALEC decided to reauthorize a resolution that supports direct access to physical therapy and calls on states to enact laws "eliminating the professional practice restriction regarding referral." The resolution, which has been on ALEC's books since 2001, was brought up for reconsideration by the council's Health and Human Services Task Force in early December.

APTA's letter supporting reauthorization cites the progress made by the profession since ALEC's initial adoption of the resolution almost two decades ago.

"Today, the physical therapy profession is well-positioned to further break down access barriers to its services as the quality of care has only been elevated," APTA writes in its letter of support for the reauthorization. "Physical therapists are more than ever performing at the top of their licenses and are fully capable of providing comprehensive and patient-centered services that include examination, evaluation, and diagnosis."

The ALEC resolution acknowledges a PT's ability to conduct those services and asserts that eliminating restrictions on direct access "promotes free-market health care and gives individuals the liberty to obtain treatment from a licensed physical therapist as the patient best sees fit."

The reauthorized resolution arrived just as a new study emerged that supports direct access to physical therapy in the U.S. civilian health care system as an approach that saves money and produces better outcomes for treatment of back pain.

Founded in 1973, ALEC is an influential nonprofit organization "dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets, and federalism." Members include state legislators and individuals from the private sector.

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