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Illinois Legislative Update: June 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Nicholas
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General Assembly Finishes Session on Time and with PT Wins Now Headed to Governor’s Office

For the first time since Governor Rauner took office, Illinois lawmakers approved a spending plan before ending session that put the state on track to have a full budget in place ahead of the new financial year. 

The House agreed to the $38.5 billion proposal by a 97-18 vote, following a landslide 54-2 tally in the Senate, and Governor Rauner said in a statement he plans to approve the proposal that received bipartisan support.

It was evident that neither party wants to go into the election season with a budget stalemate in place, and both the House and Senate ended session on time, after a flurry of activity that included passage of several pieces of legislation that were supported by the IPTA:

HB 4643: Direct Access to Physical Therapy Passes General Assembly Unanimously

The IPTA successfully reached agreement with the Illinois State Medical Society, the IL Society for Advanced Practice Nursing, the Illinois State Dental Society, and the Illinois Chiropractic Society on amending the Illinois Physical Act to specifically provide for direct access to physical therapy in Illinois.

Key pieces of this legislation include:

  • Physical therapy does not include determination of a differential diagnosis but the limitation on determining a differential diagnosis does not limit a PT from performing an evaluation and establishing a physical therapy treatment plan.
  • Physical therapists may provide physical therapy services with or without a referral from a health care professional (physician, dentist, podiatric physician, advanced practice registered nurse, or physician assistant).  If providing services without a referral, the PT must notify the patient’s treating physician within 5 days of first visit that the patient is receiving PT.  This does not apply to services related to fitness or wellness, unless the patient presents with an ailment or injury.
  • PTs shall refer a patient to the patient’s treating health care professional, or if none, a health care professional of the patient’s choice if the patients does not demonstrate measurable or functional improvements after 10 visits or 15 business days (whichever comes first) and continues to improve thereafter, the patient returns for the same/similar condition after 30 calendar days of being discharged by the PT, or the patient’s condition at any time is beyond the scope of practice for the physical therapist.
  • Wound debridement requires written authorization from a health care professional.
  • If a patient’s condition may be related to temporomandibular disorder that has not already been diagnosed by a health care professional, the PT must consult and collaborate with the appropriate health care professional.

HB 4643 (as amended) was unanimously passed by both the House and Senate and is now on its way to the Governor’s office for review. 

HB 5070 Expansion of Health Care Professionals Included in the Telehealth Act Passes General Assembly

When created, the Telehealth Act defined health care professionals to include only Illinois licensed physicians, physician assistants, optometrists, advanced practice registered nurses, and clinical psychologists as well as mental health professionals and clinicians authorized by Illinois law to provide mental health services.  HB 5070 expanded the definition to include dentists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, physical therapists, clinical social workers, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and hearing instrument dispensers.

No changes were made to the definition of telehealth, which is defined to mean “the evaluation, diagnosis, or interpretation of electronically transmitted patient-specific data between a remote location and a licensed health care professional that generates interaction or treatment recommendations.”  Telehealth includes telemedicine and the delivery of health care services that are provided through an interactive telecommunication system, which is defined in the Illinois Insurance Code as “an audio and video system permitting 2-way, live interactive communication between the patient and the distant site health care provider.”  Section 356z.22 of the Illinois Insurance Code contains additional provisions related to coverage for telehealth services.

HB 5070 passed the General Assembly as is also on its way to the Governor’s office for review.

SB 3395 Simplifying Process for PT Licensure by Endorsement Passes General Assembly

While not the PT Licensure Compact, SB 3395 (as amended) reduces the administrative burden when applying for licensure by endorsement in Illinois, particularly for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants who have been licensed in another jurisdiction for 10 years or more.

SB 3395 passed the General Assembly unanimously as is on its way to the Governor’s office for review.

SB 904 Addressing the Growing Crisis on Unpaid Workers’ Compensation Medical Bills Passes General Assembly

More and more health care providers are finding it difficult to provide care to injured workers, and any further reduction to medical care will increase the time that injured workers are unable to work as well as increase the long-term effects of their injuries.  SB 904 (as amended) provides a means for medical providers to collect interest on late payment of medical claims, requires workers’ compensation insurance companies to send EOB to explain denials of authorization of medical care, and prevents workers’ compensation insurers from continuing to ignore the law passed 7 years ago that required them to use standardized electronic billing systems. 

SB 904 passed both chambers by a super majority and is on its way to the Governor’s office for review.

HB 4504 Exempting Therapeutic Pools Used in PT Programs or Operated by Licensed PTs from Illinois Swimming Facility Act Held in House Committee

HB 4504 received support from a considerable number of skilled nursing facilities; however, the Department of Public Health and the IPTA remained opposed to this legislation and the bill did not move forward. 

While the IPTA recognizes that the current law may be overly burdensome and expensive related to the size and use of therapeutic pools in PT programs, complete lack of regulation could present a risk to the public unless there are at least minimal sanitary provisions in place.

SB 3397 Seeking to Repeal the Athletic Trainers Act Held in Senate Committee

SB 3397, if passed, would have repealed the Athletic Trainers Act.  While this bill was not called for a vote in committee, the IDFPR and the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association continue to discuss various alternatives to deregulation and other areas relating to their scope of practice.

Look for updates on the Governor’s actions on the IPTA website and in next month’s Your Advocate.  Overall, it was a very productive year for the IPTA, with all wins for our legislative agenda. Thanks goes to our PT Partners, members, and other stakeholders who worked diligently to support our initiatives for 2018.  The IPTA’s Board of Directors will be reviewing our progress and setting new priorities for 2019 as part of their meeting scheduled for this evening, June 12, 2018.

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