Californians Lose in Battle over Direct Access to Physical Therapy Services
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — On August 31, 2012, Senate Bill 924 (SB 924) that was sponsored by the California Physical Therapy Association (CPTA) and would have improved access to health care services for millions of Californians, died in the Assembly Committee on Rules. Currently, patients seeking physical therapy services are denied direct access to treatment by the physical therapist of their choice unless they obtain a physician’s diagnosis first. This often translates into the patient enduring needless pain while waiting for treatment as well as duplicative visits to physician offices for the same condition that a highly qualified physical therapist can treat. SB 924 would have corrected this problem.
As SB 924 moved through the state Assembly and Senate, CPTA made significant compromises to the original bill language. Earlier this year, CPTA representatives participated in negotiations, organized by Senator Darrell Steinberg’s office. Opponents to the bill, including the California Medical Association and the California Orthopaedic Association, attended the meeting that resulted in CPTA accepting multiple amendments to SB 924.
California physical therapists interpret the actions of the Rules Committee and Speaker John Perez as a purposeful decision to block California consumers from accessing timely and affordable physical therapy treatment, therefore, promoting unnecessary delays and extra co-payments.
Dr. James Syms, PT, DSc, ATC, SCS, president of the CPTA, issued this statement:
“Californians took a big step backward today with the defeat of SB 924, which would have allowed them access to necessary and affordable health care services.
“This is a slap in the face of California consumers who vote people into public office to do the right thing. By disallowing access to timely health care services and perpetuating unnecessary visits to physicians for referrals, delays in treatment and extra co-payments, policymakers have put their agendas ahead of the well-being of Californians.
“We are extremely disappointed that during this time of health care reform, the Assembly Committee on Rules and Speaker Perez chose to turn a blind eye toward streamlining the delivery of health care services and expanding consumer choice and access to cost-effective health care services.
“SB 924 had strong bi-partisan support. We acted in good faith and made every effort to work with opponents, which translated into making substantial amendments to the bill.
“California remains the only Western state without direct access to physical therapy services without delay. Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii already allow consumer direct access.
“By holding SB 924 in the Rules Committee, our policymakers have allowed physicians to gain tighter control on the health care delivery marketplace and sanctioned an increase in unnecessary visits, co-payments and costs to California consumers.”
SOURCE California Physical Therapy Association