(The Center Square) – Missourians will be able to save time and money by accessing physical therapy services from qualified therapists without a referral under a bill signed into law Thursday by Republican Gov. Mike Parson.
The new law allows qualified physical therapists to provide certain educational information, fitness or wellness programs, screenings and consultations without a prescription or a referral from a physician. However, physical therapists will be required to consult with an approved health care provider after every 10 visits or 30 days, whichever occurs first, before continuing a course of therapy.
“We compare this to going to see a chiropractor or a nurse practitioner,” said Jennifer Schnieders, a former president of the Missouri Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association. “You don’t have to make an extra pit stop and pay an extra copay to go see another provider just to see the person you want to see.”
Senate Bill 51, a 28-page bill, was sponsored by Sen. Karla Eslinger, R-Wasola. It was passed by a 33-1 vote in the Senate and a 146-2 vote in the House. The bill advanced out of the Senate Governmental Accountability Committee, chaired by Eslinger, and the only organization testifying against it was the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons.
Schnieders said physical therapists throughout the state worked approximately 10 years to pass the legislation.
“We do three very basic things – we strengthen things that are weak, we stretch things that are stiff and we help manage pain,” Schnieders said. “If you have a problem related to one of those three things, a physical therapist can safely and effectively treat and determine what is going wrong in the musculoskeletal system and address that particular problem.”
The bill, effective on Aug. 28, was the first non-budget legislative item signed by Parson this year.
“We are all about streamlining processes and making it easier for Missourians to receive the services they need without unnecessary government burdens,” Parson said in a statement after signing the bill. “SB 51 will make access to physical therapy care easier for more Missourians, while reducing patient costs and protecting their quality of care. We are proud to sign this good piece of legislation into law and look forward to more being sent to my desk soon.”
The final day of the regular session of the General Assembly is Friday, May 12.