Veto Of Physical Therapy Assistant Legislation Huge Letdown For Workers' Comp Budget

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Due to rising healthcare costs, many patients are going to see providers other than their physician. Less-trained individuals such as nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, and physical therapy assistants are all career paths that allow you to practice medicine but they don't have the expansive educational hardships or the massive amount of time required to complete a degree.

The state of workers' compensation in America is in crisis. Many states are making cuts under the guise of reform that is limiting what is covered, denying medically-necessary procedures, and delaying payouts in hopes that statutes will run out. A knock to the idea of cutting costs, Joseph Griffo and Ken Zebrowski were very disappointed when Cuomo vetoed the substitution of physical therapy assistants for workers' compensation treatment.

Griffo and Zebrowski sponsored legislation that would allow physical therapy assistants to perform in the same capacity as a physical therapist for workers' compensation treatment. S2718A/A2116A would allow for assistants to work as therapists while being overseen by a licensed physical therapist. The plan was that workers who were injured on the job could have a treatment plan devised by a licensed therapist, including an evaluation.

A slip and fall attorney can confirm that currently, the law stipulates that a licensed physical therapist is the only person capable of providing direct treatment and care to those who are receiving workers' compensation benefits.

Workers' compensation will not cover treatment that is provided for by a physical therapy assistant. The problem is that a physical therapist, costs considerably more than an assistant. It is reasonable to think that if an assistant is well-trained, they should be capable of performing the same service as a licensed physical therapist for a fraction of the cost.

Other medical insurance providers see real value in allowing assistants to fill in when necessary. For a system where cutting costs is an issue, you would think that using someone who is qualified and costs much less would be a welcome alternative.

The legislation was proposed not only to cut costs but to open up the likelihood that more people could get the necessary physical therapy treatment they need. If the costs were lower, it would be reasonable to extend services to more people who need it instead of making denials due to costs.

When lobbying for the legislation, Griffo stated that it is unfair for those who have other types of medical insurance to receive the same services that workers' compensation recipients are not privy to. Disappointed, he didn't understand why it would be denied. There were no additional risks involved with using an assistant. The legislation called for assistants to be under the careful supervision of a licensed physical therapist. So they would be closely monitored and there would be strict measures in place for patient care.

In a faltering health care system, using more medical professionals with lesser degrees and education to handle patient care makes more sense. There is no practical reason not to allow physical therapy assistants to help injured workers.

Most injuries require extensive and arduous rehabilitation. It simply makes sense to allow a professional who can perform the same duties and charges a lesser rate to help millions who aren't getting the services they require due to "reforms" and cutbacks.

The problem with workers' compensation is that there is so much fraud perpetrated at all levels. If you want to cut costs, it isn't about cutting or denying services; it is about finding ways to get things done for less money. The legislation that was just shot down was a good attempt at minimizing health care costs for workers' compensation claims. Yet it was denied without any real argument.

At a time when healthcare modernization is turning in the direction of allowing more workers the ability to care for patients directly, this is a step back -- not only for physical therapy assistants and the healthcare industry altogether, but most especially for a workers' compensation system that is in dire need of budgetary overhaul.


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