SOURCE: American Physical Therapy Association

March 30, 2006 10:29 ET

Mississippi Becomes 40th State to Pass Legislation Allowing Direct Access to Physical Therapy Services

ALEXANDRIA, VA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 30, 2006 -- Patients in Mississippi in need of physical therapist services can now go directly to their physical therapists without having to wait to receive a referral from a physician first. Mississippi is the 40th state to sign into law "direct access" legislation that eliminates, under certain conditions, the physician referral requirement for patients needing to see their physical therapist. The direct access bill, SB 2677, was sponsored by Senator Patrick Nunnelee and signed into law last night by Governor Haley Barbour.

SB 2677 provides direct access for patients seeking fitness and wellness care, injury prevention, or who have a previously diagnosed condition. In addition, the legislation allows physical therapists to provide services to treat children who have a diagnosed developmental disability, as part of a home health care agency, and also to patients in skilled nursing facilities all pursuant to the patient's plan of care.

"This bill removes barriers for Mississippians who need access to physical therapy services," said Senator Patrick Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo.

"This is a great day for physical therapists in Mississippi and the patients we serve," said David Harrington, PT, president of the Mississippi Physical Therapy Association (MPTA). "This bill improves patient access to physical therapy and creates additional opportunities for physical therapists to help improve the physical fitness and wellness of all Mississippians."

"The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) applauds Mississippi physical therapists for their vigilance in pursuing legislation that provides patients with direct access to physical therapy services," said APTA President Ben F Massey, Jr, PT, MA. "A mandated referral causes delays, and at times denies patients access to cost-effective physical therapy services. Mississippi's new direct access law will improve access and patient choice while maintaining quality and safety."

MPTA is a non-profit professional association representing 473 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and physical therapist/physical therapist assistant students. MPTA provides information on health care for consumers and services to its members.

The American Physical Therapy Association is a national professional organization representing more than 65,000 members. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapy practice, research, and education.

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