The readers’ forum

Minor fixes will make PIP reforms better

 

The Florida Physical Therapy Association agrees that reform of the state’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance laws were needed to rid the system of fraud and abuse. However, some of the reforms prevent patients from accessing much needed rehabilitative care resulting from accident-related injuries.

Imagine waking up a few days after a car accident with a sore back and stiffness in your leg. You know the best medical care choice is to see a physical therapist, perhaps one you already use, to evaluate you and provide rehabilitative care if necessary. However, with the new law you must first be evaluated by a physician or healthcare provider supervised by a physician within 14 days of the accident to get a prescription to see a physical therapist.

There’s a possibility that you won’t be able to use the licensed physical therapist you want because they couldn’t afford to meet the added requirements to qualify as a PIP provider. By now, your soreness has been coupled with a massive headache as you maneuver the new world of PIP medical coverage.

The unfortunate result of the well-meant 2012 legislative attempt to control PIP fraud is that Floridians who need medical care are seeing their access to physical therapy limited. The new law unintentionally stopped Floridians from getting efficient and affordable physical therapy because it requires physical therapists to operate as a licensed and accredited healthcare clinic.

These additional requirements put a burden on you as a result of needlessly delayed physical therapy evaluation and treatment. The visit to the physician to get a referral is unnecessary and adds to the cost of healthcare. Due to the expense of licensing and accreditation, some physical therapists may not be able to afford the additional financial and administrative expenses. Prior to the 2012 PIP reforms, physical therapists were exempt from the burdensome regulations of accreditation and licensure as a healthcare clinic and today, are the only providers affected by new requirements.

Lost in the new regulatory requirements is the fact that physical therapists are highly trained and licensed healthcare professionals.

They are currently required to complete a doctorate program from an accredited program before taking a national licensure examination and then applying for licensure in the state in which they wish to practice.

Fortunately, we have time to make some important tweaks to the 2012 PIP law on behalf of patients across Florida. We urge lawmakers to pay close attention to this important issue before the number of Floridians who are denied the care they deserve grows.

Sheila Nicholson, president, Florida Physical Therapy Association, Tampa

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