March 4, 2021

Physical Therapy Issues in the 2021 Texas Legislature
290 Words, a 1.5-Minute Read

The Texas Physical Therapy Association (TPTA) is focusing on two issues in the 2021 Texas Legislature:

  • A minor update to the state’s direct access law.
  • An attempt to require health plans to lower physical therapy patient co-pays to the level of primary care co-pays.

Physical Therapy Direct Access in Texas
Texas was the last state in the nation to allow physical therapists to have direct access to a patient without a physician referral heading into the 2019 Texas Legislature. (Missouri is in interesting twist in that it does not allow direct access because it does not allow physicians to own ancillary services.)

Lawmakers accepted TOA’s compromise in 2019:

  • Ten business days of direct access for all physical therapists.
  • Fifteen business days of direct access for physical therapists who have completed either a residency or fellowship.
  • A signed disclosure by the patient acknowledging that physical therapists cannot offer a medical diagnosis, cannot perform imaging, and insurance may not pay for it.

The physical therapists introduced legislation last month by Rep. Ina Minjarez (D-San Antonio) and Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) that would update the state’s direct access law by adding board-certified physical therapists to the 15-day provision.

Ultimately, the physical therapy profession will have to determine a uniform path of education and training.

Physical Therapy Patient Co-Pays
Senator Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) filed two bills – SB 939 and SB 940 – which would require health plans to set physical therapy patient co-pays at the same rate as co-pays for primary care services.

The co-pay pieces of legislation face a challenging path due to the Legislature’s unusual nature: the pandemic and the state’s electricity crisis. The health plans are likely to oppose these bills, and any bill facing opposition will feature a more challenging path to passage in 2021.

Other Bills: Dozens of Them
Click here to view TOA's bill tracker, which tracks the dozens of bills that relate to orthopaedics.

Click here to view TOA's musculoskeletal primer for state lawmakers.

Click here to send an e-mail about opioid policy to your state lawmakers.
Bobby Hillert | Executive Director
Texas Orthopaedic Association | 214.728.7672 m