News Briefs

Missouri bill would relax rules for receiving treatment from physical therapists

By: - January 31, 2023 3:30 pm

Sen. Karla Eslinger speaks on the Senate floor on Feb. 22, 2022 (photo by Madeline Carter).

Physical therapists in Missouri would be allowed to evaluate and treat patients without a referral from a doctor under legislation that received initial approval in the state Senate Tuesday.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Karla Eslinger, R-Wasola, only applies to physical therapists with doctorates in physical therapy or at least five years of experience in the field. The physical therapist must consult with a physician if treatment lasts more than 10 visits or 30 days, whichever occurs first.

Similar legislation was approved last year in the Missouri House, though it didn’t get traction in the Senate.

The Senate will need to vote on the measure one more time before it would be sent to the Missouri House.

Eslinger said Missouri is the only state without any form of direct access to physical therapists.

“This removes unnecessary burdens on Missouri citizens,” she said Tuesday.

The legislation earned bipartisan support during Tuesday’s debate.

“I appreciate this bill,” said Sen. Karla May, D-St. Louis. “I’ve always thought this was a good piece of legislation that got caught up and blocked somewhere by somebody.”

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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has spent two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, with most of that time focused on the Missouri statehouse as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he helped launch The Missouri Independent in October 2020.