Physical therapy accessibility and co-pay legislation sent to the governor

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The General Assembly gave final approval yesterday to legislation filed by Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, and Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-St. Louis County, which will make physical therapy less costly and more accessible.

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale
Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale

Senate Bill 159 requires insurance companies to charge the same co-payments or co-insurance amounts for a visit to a physical therapist as they would for a visit to a doctor’s office that performs similar services.

“We are just so excited and happy,” Chris Marsh, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Physical Therapists Association, said. “The Physical Therapy Association has been working on this bill for two years, Sen. Schmitt has been so great, he is a hero to the physical therapists and patients across the board.”

John Bardgett who represents the Missouri Physical Therapy Association said he and everyone involved with the Association are grateful for the General Assembly “standing up against” insurance lobbying.

“Patients are showing up at clinics and are totally shocked to find that their co-pays are in a separate category being charged $50 and $60 dollar co-pays for physical therapy services,” Bardgett said. “Unfortunately this impacts elderly Missourians more than anyone else. So we are all very happy and appreciate the leadership the General Assembly has shown here.”

The legislation will give patients greater access to physical therapist services, Schmitt said.

“This legislation is really about ensuring that patients who need physical therapist services can access those services, and that those services are affordable,” Schmitt said. “Patients will be able to recover more quickly, and hopefully be able to avoid setbacks they might have faced if they could not continue receiving physical therapist services.”

John Bardgett
John Bardgett

Marsh said the bill will be beneficial to all physical therapy patients, but especially those who require visits two to three times a week and pay the specialist co-pays each time.

Additionally, Marsh commended Bardgett for his honesty and hard work to get this bill passed. He said without Bardgett’s help, the groups pushing this bill “would have been lost.

The legislation also requires health carriers to clearly state the availability of physical therapist coverage under their plan.

SB159 now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon for his consideration.

“I haven’t spoken to the Governor’s office, but the Nixon administration has been one of the most sympathetic in recent history to providing Missourians affordable health care,” Bardgett said. “We look forward to presenting the benefits to the Governor and his staff.”

To contact Scott Faughn, email scott@themissouritimes.com or via Twitter at @scottfaughn.