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CA PPG Says California Physicians Contradict Themselves Regarding Employment Legislation

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- So which is it?  That's what California physical therapists want to know. The powerful lobbying group, the California Medical Association (CMA), is coming out strongly against legislation, AB 1360 (Swanson, D-Alameda), to give rural area hospitals the ability to employ physicians but at the same time is strongly supporting a bill, AB 783, authored by Assembly Member Mary Hayashi, to give physician controlled medical corporations the ability to employ physical therapists. The rationale for supporting AB 783 includes the very same reasons the hospitals are using as to why they should be allowed to employ physicians.  

"You can't have it both ways," said Dr. Paul Gaspar, DPT and owner of a physical therapy practice in southern California. "There is strong evidence that patient care is compromised when physicians employ physical therapists, and the CMA has not been able to dispute this. However, there is no proof that care suffers when hospitals employ physicians. The CMA's contradictory viewpoints on these bills suggest that their main interest is not to protect patients, but to 'bring home the bacon' for their members."

"There's a reason why laws are in place to protect consumers from health care professionals who would stand to financially gain from treatments they advise patients receive," said Dave Powers, PT, DPT, MBA, president of the California Private Practice Group of physical therapists. "These laws are the only things that stand between patients and physician 'referrals for profit.' Physicians are being told they can make huge profits for their bottom line if they employ physical therapists or unlicensed personnel and keep all physical therapy patient care within their medical corporations."

Adds San Francisco physical therapist Jerry Durham, "Physical therapy is just the start. If AB 783 passes, it will set a dangerous precedent in California that would allow medical corporations to eventually monopolize all health care services. Pretty soon, there will be no independent-minded health care professional to guard against referrals to services that are unnecessary and clinically inappropriate. AB 783 will remove the rigid checks and balances in place under current law."

Studies by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the Office of Inspector General examining physician owned physical therapy services (POPTS) have found over-referrals, excessive costs and substandard care in over 91 percent of reviewed cases. Using statistics from a California workers' compensation study conducted during the early 1990s, the adverse economic impact of POPTS on the California workers' compensation system can be estimated to have exceeded $8 billion during the last two decades.

"The hypocrisy of CMA's strategy to enrich its members by legalizing the employment and control of physical therapy services while fighting the ability of small rural hospitals in underserved areas of the state to employ physicians is striking," said Richard Katz, PT, president and CEO of Adient Health, Northridge. "AB 1360 is simply the hospital's version of AB 783, but on a smaller scale."

According to an article in California Healthline, the physicians are on record contending that, "if physicians become hospital employees, hospital administrators would have more influence over physicians and their medical decisions, which could compromise patient care."  

That's the same line of reasoning the California Private Practice Group of physical therapists is using to oppose legalizing the employment of physical therapists by physician controlled medical corporations as proposed in AB 783.

SOURCE California Private Practice Group of physical therapists
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