Preserve Quality of Physical Therapy Services in California

111102-N-IZ292-050

Target: Darrell Steinberg, California State Senate President

Goal: Stop a bill which would degrade physical therapy services

While the popular notion that a free market encourages competition and breeds quality products has proven successful in many respects, there have been times when the principle has proven an utter failure. California’s attempts at deregulating the energy industry were part of the reason Gray Davis was removed from office in a recall election. The ultimate result if California Bill AB 1000 were to go into law would be a disastrous free-market market failure, this time in the physical therapy industry.

Physical therapists perform a vital function that coalesces quite poorly with the likely results of the new bill. The intent – an increase in direct access to consumers – appears noble, but would by its very nature do more harm than good. This is because the bill would “expressly add physical therapists and occupational therapists to the list of healing arts professionals who may be professional employees of a medical corporation.” This looks good on paper, but would ultimately commoditize physical therapy. It would legalize referral for profit and ownership of physical therapy by 15 other discrete medical professions.

Monetization of an industry intended to be centered around providing long term health to the public presents a conflict of interest. A privatized physical therapy industry would cost consumers more money, while decreasing the standards of service within the industry. This type of scenario has played out in the past across other industries and must not be allowed to occur in a field as important as physical therapy.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Steinberg,

While the goal of a thriving free-market industry is an honorable one, there are times where such a notion must be recognized as impractical and potentially harmful to the majority of consumers. Attempts over a decade ago at deregulating the energy industry here in California effectively terminated the gubernatorial career of Gray Davis as the disastrous effects of the decision of deregulation resulted in a recall election. Some industries do not coalesce well with deregulation or privatization. Physical therapy is another field similarly unsuited to becoming heavily privatized. Unfortunately, this would be just what would happen if AB 1000 were to go into law.

AB 1000 is a California bill which will “expressly add physical therapists and occupational therapists to the list of healing arts professionals who may be professional employees of a medical corporation”. This is being done under the guise of increasing access by consumers to physical therapy, but the ultimate result could be just the opposite. The application of this law would commoditize an industry which is ill-suited to such a change. This means that it would legalize referral for profit and ownership of physical therapy by 15 other separate medical professions.

This monetization of a health-related industry such as physical therapy would represent an egregious conflict of interest. In addition, this change would ultimately end up costing consumers more money in exchange for what might be a virtually negligible increase in accessibility. To allow this to happen to California’s physical therapy system would be a tremendous mistake that harms both the industry and the consumer.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

photo credit: US Navy via Wikimedia Commons

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