On Monday, June 13th California Assembly Bill AB783 failed to pass out of committee in the California Legislature. The bill, which would explicitly allow physicians to employ physical therapists, would have been in stark contrast to current State of California Legislative Counsel opinion which states that it is illegal for physical therapists to be employed by physicians. The bill has been pushed by Mary Hayashi, who not surprisingly receives quite a bit of campaign money from physician groups.
Recently, the issue has received increased attention as physical therapists and activists have taken to twitter and facebook to spread the word. Even more impressive, NBC LA has now run two articles critiquing the bill: Doctor Run Physical Therapy Clinics Scrutinized and Physical Therapy Bill Delayed.
Some sources have reported that supporters of AB783 have spent upwards of 2 million dollars while physical therapists and the CA Private Practice Section have spent a mere 57 thousand dollars. I think the relative success of the PT campaign illustrates the importance of viral, social medial in the form of Facebook, Twitter, and an online presence. Most notable is the Stop POPTS campaign which I have written about previously in the post Anti-POPTS Movement goes Web 2.0. But, even the California Private Practice Section has been slamming their website with information and announcements
But, in the end, I think it also illustrates the fact that the bill is grossly illogical as it promotes a huge conflict of interest in medicine: referral for profit. I wrote an extensive piece about a year ago on conflict of interest and POPTS which can be found on the AAOMPT Student Special Interest Group Blog.
Interestingly, the Medical Code of Ethics States:
“[u]nder no circumstances may physicians place their own financial interests above the welfare of their patients.”
And, what about The American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Ethics and Judicial Affairs (CEJA)?
“physicians should not refer patients to a health care facility which is outside their office practice and at which they do not directly provide care or services when they have an investment interest in that facility.”
Please, take a few minutes to read the articles. Then comment and share. Tweeps on twitter are using the hashtags #StopPOPTS and #VoteNoOnAB783. The more physical therapists continue to articulate the many problems with referral for profit and physician employment/ownership of physical therapy the more press it will receive. Both articles have already received countless comments from individuals regarding the problem with POPTS.
What are you waiting for?
The continued success of the anti-POPTS movement hinges on involvement from the bottom up. Every comment, like, tweet, and shared link are useful. Every mention in conversations with patients and the public add up. A big thank you to all the physical therapists who have gone to capitol to meet with legislators and testify. And of course, the importance of the California Private Practice Section and California Section of the APTA can not be underestimated.
Continue to spread the word!