A South Carolina circuit court granted a summary judgment in favor of the South Carolina Board of Physical Examiners (SCBPTE) and South Carolina Chapter of American Physical Therapy Association (SCAPTA) which upheld the ability of physical therapists (PTs) to operate group practices while maintaining the ban on PTs working for physician owned groups. A news release from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) notes that this is the latest chapter in a decade-long battle in South Carolina over the issue of physician-owned physical therapy services (POPTS).
The APTA news release indicates that the case is a sequel to the 2006 opinion of the State Supreme Court in the Sloan litigation involving a practice act clause that prohibits a PT from dividing revenue with a person who referred a patient. The Supreme Court interpreted the act as prohibiting a PT from working for pay for a physician-owned group if the PT treats patients referred by a physician in the same group. SCAPTA has reportedly defended the law from attempts to repeal it.
The circuit court case was brought by two medical doctors and one PT against the SCBPTE. The plaintiffs argued that the act’s prohibition should also apply to PTs who work for pay for a PT-owned group if the PT treats patients sent to him or her by another PT in the group, and the summary judgment rules against this interpretation. According to the APTA news release, the SCAPTA entered a motion to intervene in the case soon after it was filed in 2013, which was granted by the court.
The issues with interpretation of the law will likely be ongoing as plaintiffs are expected to appeal this decision, which could lead to the case being reviewed by the state supreme court, as indicated on the APTA news release. Also, supporters of a repeal of the POPTS restrictions could make another attempt to undermine the entire law.