This is a plea from Chris Reed, who is asking for your help.
Family, Friends, Current and Former Patients,
Many of you know that I have become heavily involved in the politics of my profession. I am writing to ask your help. We are fighting for our profession right now. I have attached a letter to the CA Speaker of the Assembly John Perez and the CA Senate Pro Temps Darrell Steinberg. If you feel that CA Senior Citizens deserve to have the same benefits to physical therapy as the rest of the country has, please print the letters, sign them, and fax them to their Sacramento offices (fax numbers are listed on the letters).
Our primary legislative goal is to allow the citizens of CA direct access to physical therapy services, meaning without the need of a physician referral. I will spare you a rundown of the numerous studies that show that when patients have direct access to physical therapy, they get better quicker, require less medication, require fewer medical procedures, and have lower costs. The CA Medical Association has been strongly opposed to this over the years, blocking legislation on several occasions. In January 2012, we were called to a negotiating session by Senate Pro Temps Steinberg. During this session between the Physical Therapists and MD’s we agreed to a compromise that would give us a limited form of Direct Access in exchange for MD’s being able to legally employ PT’s (a practice they have been doing illegally for years already).
Everything was going great with this piece of legislation until last week. On Thursday August 16th, the CA Assembly Appropriations Committee (the committee responsible for determining the financial impact of bills) announced back room deals to accept hostile amendments to our bill that will cause severe damage to our profession. The most damaging of the amendments would put into law that physical therapists cannot diagnose.
Why is this so devastating? Federal regulations require physical therapists to put an ICD-9 code on the HCFA billing form with a diagnosis that is within their scope of practice rather than just regurgitating the diagnosis provided on the medical referral (which in 2/3 of the cases is either wrong or of no value – see that reference here).
If PTs can no longer diagnose, they cannot be paid by CMS for the treatment of Medicare patients. Medicare beneficiaries will effectively be cut off from receiving the physical therapy benefits the rest of the Senior Citizens across the country are entitled to.
Thank you for your time.
Here are the two letters you can use – fax them to the leaders of the CA House and Senate, with links to more information about the leaders, and a way to find your own Senators and Assembly members: