The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) reports that residents of Oklahoma will now have direct access to physical therapy due to new legislation. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed HB 1020 on May 23, which allows patients to be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist (PT) for 30 days without a referral from a physician or other healthcare provider. State law previously required a physician referral for any kind of treatment, though PTs were permitted to provide an evaluation without a referral.
The new law will take effect November 1, 2014. The bill was promoted by the Oklahoma Chapter of APTA (OPTA). OPTA president Debra Christian, PT, DPT, states, “This is an historic time for the Oklahoma Chapter and the culmination of many years of work by numerous individuals. I want to thank the OPTA Board of Directors for their commitment to this effort, as well as our membership who stepped up in a big way over the past couple of months.”
Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS, says, “Ensuring patient access is a cornerstone of APTA’s vision and mission. I want to thank Rep Arthur Hulbert, PT, DPT, for authoring this bill, and Rep Sean Roberts, PT, for coauthoring. As physical therapists, Rep Hulbert and Rep Roberts truly understand how important this legislation is and the positive impact it will have on individuals who need the services of physical therapists.”
The APTA news release notes that the success in Oklahoma means that 49 states and the District of Columbia now allow some level of treatment by a PT without a referral. Direct access legislation is pending in Michigan, which is the final state with no form of direct access to treatment by PTs. Michigan SB 690 recently received a unanimous vote in the Senate and now awaits action from the state’s House of Representatives.