California Physical Therapy Private Practice Group (CA PPG) Announces NBC Reporter Won the Edward R. Murrow Journalism Award for Story on Doctor-Owned Therapy Clinics

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CA PPG commends Frank Snepp on high-quality reporting and "lambastes" the California Medical Association (CMA) for its hypocrisy in tacitly supporting Senate Bill 1273 (SB 1273), which would allow athletic trainers unrestricted direct access and to bill for therapy services.

Frank Snepp, Acclaimed Journalist, Wins Award for POPTS Criticism Piece

Frank Snepp, Acclaimed Journalist, Wins Award for POPTS Criticism Piece

Frank Snepp, won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for excellence in journalism for his 2011 story entitled, Doctor-Owned Therapy Clinics Scrutinized.

This week it was announced that NBC 4 LA investigative reporter, Frank Snepp, won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for excellence in journalism for his 2011 story entitled, "Doctor-Owned Therapy Clinics Scrutinized". Snepp is a nationally acclaimed writer known for investigative reports on special interests and criminal activity. His story on physician-owned physical therapy clinics (POPTS) went viral and drew national attention to a "conspiracy" between Assemblymember Mary Hayashi and the CMA to stall law enforcement against physical therapy clinics operating outside the boundaries of the law. Such law enforcement would have effectively kept physicians from receiving "kickbacks" from POPTS. According to Dr. David Straight, physical therapist and Chair of CA PPG, "Although Hayashi's bill, AB 783- Physician Referral for Profit was soundly rejected in 2011, there still has been no law enforcement against the illegal clinics, which have run up millions in debt for substandard care."

What is more surprising to Dr. Straight, however, is that the CMA and the California Orthopaedic Association (COA) appear poised to support California Senate Bill 1273 (SB 1273), which would license athletic trainers, allow them to bill for therapy services, and allow them to diagnose and treat "patients" with unrestricted direct access. CA PPG points out that SB 1273 is a 'clone' of Assembly Bill 374, authored by Mary Hayashi in 2011, which was eventually scaled back to include only title protection, not licensing. According to CA PPG, the self-serving nature of the latest CMA and COA position is clear because numerous professional sources within both physician groups have confirmed that their intent is to replace physical therapists with athletic trainers in their illegal therapy clinics and pay them pennies on the dollar. During one highly attended lecture by orthopaedic surgeons, the physician lecturer said this scheme to replace therapists with athletic trainers and chiropractors "shut down 60% of the physical therapy small businesses in one area, which he found quite exciting."

The Office of Inspector General determined that therapy is substandard in 91% of cases when delivered in POPTS, but Medicare guidelines indicate that SB 1273 might set a new precedent for substandard patient rehabilitation. These guidelines clearly state that athletic trainers, massage therapists, recreational therapists, and others not trained to treat patients are precluded from billing Medicare for therapy services. According to Straight, "Athletic Trainers earn Bachelors degrees and have no education or internship hours with patient care. It is shocking that SB 1273 is being touted as a bill to "protect the athletes" when the word "athlete" is not mentioned in the bill even once- only patients are mentioned." Straight also added that, ironically, the CMA and COA continue to offer strong opposition to Senate Bill 924 (SB 924) which would allow 30 business days of patient direct access to physical therapists, who earn doctoral degrees and have extensive training in medical screening and patient care. The CMA and COA suggest that consumer direct access to physical therapists would put patients at risk.

SB 1273- Athletic Trainers, will be heard in the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Committee chaired by Senator Curren Price, on Monday April 16th. Senators Mark Wyland, Gloria Negrete McLeod, Ellen Corbett, Ed Hernandez, Tony Strickland, Bill Emmerson, Lou Correa, and Juan Vargas also serve on the committee. According to Doctor Jeff Fairley, physical therapist and member of CA PPG, "The CMA and COA's motives and tacit support for this bill are so flimsy and transparent, the senate committee should see through them like Saran Wrap."

Source: California Private Practice Group

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David Straight, PT, DPT
California Private Practice Group
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