By Kate Hunger
Patients in Texas soon will be able to receive physical therapy treatment without a physician referral.
Signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on June 14, HB 29 allows patient access to physical therapy without a physician referral. Michael Geelhoed, D.P.T., OCS, MTC, associate professor and director of clinical education, attended the bill signing on July 14.
The Texas Physical Therapy Association (TPTA) has been working to achieve patient access, also called direct access, for 13 legislative sessions, said Geelhoed, vice president of TPTA. PT students and faculty who have been participating for years in advocacy efforts through calls and emails to their elected representatives and lobbying visits to the state capitol in Austin will finally see their efforts come to fruition, he said.
When the law takes effect Sept. 1, patients will be allowed to receive treatment from a physical therapist with a doctoral degree for up to 10 consecutive business days before a physician referral is required, Geelhoed said. Physical therapists with residency or fellowship training will be allowed to treat patients for up to 15 days without a referral.
“You as a patient should have the right to make informed choices about who treats your aches and pains,” Geelhoed said. “It’s pretty exciting, and the research shows there are better outcomes and lower costs in states that have the direct access model.”
Texas has a lot of company when it comes to patient access to physical therapy services.
“Forty-eight other states and the U.S. military have this already,” he said.
The bill will take effect Sept. 1, the same day Geelhoed will assume the role of president of TPTA.