This article was originally published in the July 14, 2014 edition of the Coopersville Observer
Lower health care costs and a faster road to relief are finally in sight for Michigan residents. In early July the Direct Consumer Access Bill was passed after 34 years in the making. The bill allows consumers the option of seeking treatment directly from a physical therapist without having to gain a referral from their physician first.
“This is a huge day for patients and physical therapists alike,” said Gina Otterbein, a Physical Therapist and co-owner of Northern Physical Therapy, with offices located in Coopersville, Cedar Springs, Wayland, Grant, and Sparta. “Michigan is the last of the 50 states to pass this type of bill, now people in Michigan have the choice to go directly to a physical therapist which provides faster access, results and ultimately lower health care costs.” Otterbein notes that physicians (and physician assistants) will continue to refer to PT especially after surgeries or severe injuries, but now there is the option to see a PT directly for issues such as a sports injury, back flare up, knee pain or shoulder stiffness. The physical therapists will assess the client’s problem and develop a plan of exercise, manual therapy, education and other PT treatment to get the client back to life quickly and safely.
The bill, which was signed by Governor Rick Snyder was previously passed by the House of Representatives in June and by the Senate in May. It will officially go into effect on January 1, 2015 and will grant patients the opportunity to visit a physical therapist up to 10 times. Many Coopersville residents, along with Northern Physical Therapy supported this bill, “We appreciate everyone who supported this bill, both our community members and our legislators” said Otterbein. Northern shared information about the bill’s progress through social and electronic media and the community responded. “It was truly amazing!”
Because the Michigan Physical Therapy Association (MPTA) has been working on the Direct Access plan for 34 years, they’ve seen many states ahead of them who have experienced significant advantages from the direct access route. Other states have shown a correlation between direct access and lower health care costs, faster recovery times, and a more positive relationships between the patient and the health care providers.
If you would like additional information on the Direct Consumer Access Bill, contact Gina Otterbein at 616-997-6172.