Independent Physical Therapists of California Analysis (iPT of CA) Demonstrates AB1000 Would Cause State to Pay for Millions in Substandard, Fraudulent Healthcare

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iPT of CA Criticizes Special Interests for Trying to Legalize Physician Self-referral in an Era of Healthcare Reform

Physician-owned physical therapy is one of the biggest healthcare scams of our time.

The Independent Physical Therapists of California (iPT of CA) reiterated their opposition to AB 1000 today, a California bill which would legalize an avoidable conflict of interest by allowing physicians to self-refer patients for financial gain to physical therapy clinics they own.

iPT of CA testified in opposition to AB 1000 in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday August 12, 2013 along with its coalition partners, the APTA Private Practice Section, Physical Therapy Provider Network (PTPN), the National Physical Therapy Business Alliance (PTBA), and the International Chiropractic Association of California. During testimony, Dr. James Dagostino, physical therapist, asserted, "Physician-owned physical therapy clinics (POPTS) is one of the biggest healthcare 'scams' of our time. When physicians own physical therapy services they refer patients to therapy 2.3 times more often and 91% of the time the care falls below professional standards." In closing, Dr. Dagostino asked the Appropriations Committee to be courageous and assess the real fiscal impacts of the bill, especially considering federal government data recently demonstrated $6.1 billion dollars wasted on physician self-referral, which prompted President Obama to recommend banning federal payment for such services in his 2014 budget.

Dr. Jeff Fairley, physical therapist and Public Policy Director for iPT of CA pointed out AB 1000 not only harms patients and our national economy, but also our state. According to Fairley, "Our analysis points to the fact that AB 1000 could cost CalPERS over $11 million per year for care that has proven to be substandard. It also encourages fraud and abuse in the Workers' Compensation system, which could cause Workers' Comp reform, SB 863, to backfire."

iPT of CA suggested to the Senate Appropriations Committee that there were only three good options regarding AB 1000; 1) Vote 'no' on the bill, 2) Hold the bill until a Government Accountability Office Study (GAO) on POPTS fraud and abuse is released in a few months, and/or 3) Amend the bill to allow physician self-referral only in accountable care organizations (ACOs) where there is no incentive for physicians to self-refer for profit. iPT of CA asserts that if access to quality health care services and coordination of care are truly the altruistic motives of the bill proponents, they would voluntarily amend the bill as iPT of CA has suggested.

Sadly, iPT of CA agrees with Representative Jackie Speier, author of federal anti-self-referral legislation (HR 2914) who in a recent press conference said that, if left unchecked, many physicians will keep ordering more and more self-referral services to make up for declining Medicare payments- just like McDonald's makes hamburgers. In fact, Dr. Fairley asserted, "AB 1000 is certainly not a 'happy meal' for patients and taxpayers. We intend to fight the bill until the end to protect millions of patients from being served by POPTS- in a 'distasteful' business arrangement."

AB 1000 was placed in the suspense file by the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 12th. It is scheduled for a vote this week. Senator Kevin DeLeon is the chairman of the committee. Senators Darrell Steinberg, Mimi Walters, Alex Padilla, Gerald Hill, Ted Gaines, and Ricardo Lara also serve on the committee.

Source: Independent Physical Therapists of California


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Dr. Jeff Fairley, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Independent Physical Therapists of California
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