Many Californians are still not aware of Assembly Bill 1000 that became effective January 1, 2014, providing them direct access to physical therapist services. Previously, consumers seeking physical therapist services were required to first visit a medical doctor for them to prescribe the physical therapy. If a consumer did not have a prescription for physical therapy from a medical doctor, they could not visit a physical therapist. Effective January 1, 2014, this is no longer the case. Consumers are now able to directly seek safe, quality physical therapist services without any delay.
Individuals directly accessing a physical therapist will be limited to 45 calendar days or 12 visits before having to be seen by a physician to get a signed plan of care. However, approximately 90 percent of patients don’t require services beyond these limits.
AB1000 was co-sponsored by the California Physical Therapy Association (CPTA), had tremendous bi-partisan support, and was a historic compromise within the medical community on behalf of Californians. “Our policymakers and Governor Brown got it right in making direct access to physical therapist services a reality for all Californians,” said Dr. James Syms, PT, DSc, ATC, SCS and President of CPTA. “Roadblocks to efficient and cost-effective care, particularly when an individual is experiencing pain, need to be torn down. The enactment of AB 1000 does exactly this by giving individuals the right to seek immediate relief from pain, injuries and impairments, while saving time and money by eliminating unnecessary physician-office visits and co-payments.”
While the end result of AB 1000 helps California physical therapists achieve the longstanding goal of direct access, the final version also includes language that allows physical therapists to be employed by medical professional corporations. The provision of the law allowing medical professional corporations to employ physical therapists stipulates that a physician, surgeon, podiatrist, or other referring practitioner must inform patients that they may seek physical therapy treatment services by a practitioner of their own choice, and that the practitioner does not have to be employed by the medical corporation. The legislation also authorizes the organization of physical therapy professional corporations with majority ownership by physical therapists that, as well, may employ other health professionals.
California Physical Therapy Association (CPTA) is a voice for the physical therapy profession in the state of California and the third-largest physical therapy association in the world. CPTA is a chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association, representing more than 82,000 physical therapists and physical therapist assistants nationwide.
For more information about AB1000 here in California, please see this article on the California Legislative Information website.
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