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Direct Access to Physical Therapy approved in Texas.

Public Service Amnnouncement: House Bill 29 Signed By Governor

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On June 14, 2019, Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 29 which has an effective date of September 1, 2019.
TEXAS OFFICIALLY HAS DIRECT ACCESS TO PHYSICAL THERAPY! This is a big deal. Texas is the 49th state to pass legislation to allow direct access to physical therapy.
What is direct access you may ask? In a nutshell, it's the ability of a patient to go see a physical therapist without a script from a physician.
Why is direct access a good thing for you? Direct access allows for substantial cost savings in healthcare costs, decreased out-of-pocket costs for consumers, and a decrease in opiod use.

Beginning on September 1st, 2019 –
• Patients will be able to choose to see a Physical Therapist without a referral / prescription for 10 or 15 business days. (How many days are available for each case will depend on the specific post-graduate degree training of each individual therapist.)
• Patients choosing to see a Physical Therapist without a referral will sign a disclosure stating that they understand that physical therapists do not make “medical diagnoses” of illness or disease.

HB29 amends provisions of Section 453.301, Occupations Code (PT Practice Act) that includes treatment without a referral for not more than ten (10)consecutive business days for a physical therapist (PT) who possesses a doctoral degree in physical therapy or who has completed a minimum of thirty (30) continuing competence activities in the area of differential diagnosis.
Additionally, a PT with a doctoral degree in physical therapy who has completed a residency or fellowship can treat for not more than fifteen (15) consecutive business days without a referral.
Stipulations on treatment without a referral are the PT must have been licensed to practice physical therapy for at least one (1) year and must be covered by professional liability insurance. Before treatment can exceed the authorized number of days, a referral must be obtained from a qualified healthcare practitioner.
A PT, regardless of entry-level degree, who has been licensed to practice for at least one (1) year will no longer be authorized to treat an established patient under a prior referral for thirty (30) days or twenty (20) visits effective September 1, 2019.
Current provisions in the PT Practice Act/Rules regarding referral remain in effect until September 1, 2019.
A PT who treats without a referral must obtain a signed disclosure from the patient beginning November 1, 2019. A disclosure form will be available on the PT Board’s website, www.ptot.texas.gov, at that time.
The Rules & Practice Committee of the Texas Board of Physical Therapy Examiners (PT Board) will meet in July to discuss and recommend amendments to PT Rules §322.1. (a)in order to clarify and implement the provisions of HB 29. The full PT Board will then vote to propose the amendments. Any amendments that are proposed will not be in effect until final adoption by the PT Board.

Following is a timeline for the implementation of HB 29.

HB 29 –Amendment to Section 453.301, Occupations Code

June 14, 2019 HB 29 Signed into law by Governor Abbott
• Effective date of amendment to PT Practice Act Section 453.301 -September 1, 2019.
• Current provisions in PT Practice Act/Rules regarding referral still in effect until September 1, 2019.

July 18, 2019 TBPTE Rules & Practice Committee Meeting
• Agenda item -Discussion and possible action on amending PT Rules §322.1.(a) pursuant to HB 29 amendments to Sec. 453.301, Occupations Code during the 86th Legislative Session.

July 19, 2019 TX Board of Physical Therapy Examiners Meeting
• Recommendation from Rules & Practice Committee to propose amendment to PT Rules §322.1. (a) to implement provisions of HB 29.
• Proposed Rules amendment to be published in upcoming edition of Texas Register for public comment. (Date TBA)

September 1, 2019 Amendment to PT Practice Act becomes effective
• PT with doctoral degree in physical therapy can treat a patient for 10 consecutive business days without a referral.
• PT who has completed at least 30 hrs. of continuing competence activities in differential diagnosis can treat a patient for 10 consecutive business days without a referral.
• PT with doctoral degree in physical therapy who has completed a residency or fellowship can treat a patient for 15 consecutive business days.
• All of the above must have been licensed to practice for at least one year and be covered by professional liability insurance.
• Treatment exceeding authorized number of days must have referral.
• PT can no longer treat an established patient under a prior referral for 30 days or 20 visits.
• Provisions in proposed Rules amendment not in effect until final adoption.

October 11, 2019 TX Board of Physical Therapy Examiners Meeting
• Final adoption of amendment to PT Rules §322.1.(a).
• Adopted Rules amendment to be published in upcoming edition of Texas Register. (Date TBA)

November 1, 2019 PT Rules Amendment Becomes Effective.
• All provisions of adopted Rules amendment become effective including amount of professional liability insurance coverage and signed disclosure requirements.
• Disclosure form available on Board's website at www.ptot.texas.gov.

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Benefits of Direct Access:

1. Improved Access to Care
• Texas is ranked 47thin the shortage of primary care physicians, causing longer PT referral wait times and delayed treatment.
• Direct Access allows patients to be properly evaluated and treated faster by a licensed Physical Therapist.
• Faster treatment through Direct Access helps to reduce the level of debilitation caused by an injury or disability as well as promote a quicker recovery.
2. Better Health Outcomes
• Research has shown that Direct Access patients had a lower probability of over utilizing health care services including opioid prescriptions, advanced imaging, emergency visits,and surgery.
• Problems associated with physician referrals ultimately have an impact on the quality of care of physical therapy patients.
3. Lower Health Care Costs
• Multiple studies have shown that direct access to physical therapy significantly lowers out of pocket costs and total paid health care claims.
• Results from a 2018 study found that,”current trends in health care costs are becoming unsustainable for payers and patients and are not resulting in improved outcomes...consulting a Physical Therapist early may provide an opportunity to mitigate downstream health care utilization while containing costs.”
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With our physical therapy clinic in Edinburg TX, Doctor's Physical Therapy & Sports Institute provides professional PT and wellness services, care and sports injury evaluation. DPTSI remains committed to using the latest technology, assessments and screenings to measure movement in ways that were never before possible.

To learn more about the types of conditions our physical therapists treat and how DPTSI uses AlterG®, HydroWorx®, and Biodex® Systems, visit our website at www.dptsi.org or contact us at (956)205-2704 to book your next appointment today.

Feel free to schedule and direct pay your Rest.Recover.Rejuvenate. sessions at DPTSI online at our website by clicking on the link below.