Physical therapists in Illinois are calling on lawmakers to pass legislation that would help patients see a therapist faster. Under current law, a physician referral is required before a person can be treated by a physical therapist. Scott Ward, president of the American Physical Therapy Association, says there’s no reason for this and there is no risk to the patient.
Physical therapists can’t even give out advice on muscle strengthening exercises which can fix something as simple as a sore back and keep the event from happening again. PTs are pushing for changes to the law to allow direct access to a physician without a doctor referral.
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Direct access will also help control rising healthcare costs, argues Ward. It reduces the number of physician visits that a patient must make. Many of those costs are then passed on to insurance companies or Medicaid. With direct access to a physical therapist, Ward says that’s less money spent by insurance companies and less Medicaid money being spent.
Currently 47 states and the District of Columbia allow some type of direct access to a physical therapist.
The Illinois Physical Therapy Association hopes the bill is called for a vote in the spring session in Springfield. Some 13,000 physical therapists participated in a week-long annual meeting that wrapped up Saturday in Chicago.