Published 10/1/2011

California rules on PT employment

California has recently been the focus of a political battle over the employment of physical therapists (PTs) by medical corporations. For more than 20 years, PTs have been able to work for both medical and general corporations. However, the California Physical Therapy Board reversed its position and ruled that PTs cannot be employed by medical corporations because the California professional corporations law does not list them among those who can be professional employees of such corporations. The ruling was problematic because other California laws support the provision of physical therapy by medical groups.

Earlier this year, the California legislature failed to pass a permanent legislative solution to this problem, but in early September, it did pass a bill that temporarily bars the California PT Board from disciplining therapists who are employed by medical corporations. If signed by the governor, this law would delay any disciplinary proceedings until Jan. 1, 2013, providing time for a permanent legislative fix.

Orthopaedic and other medical groups can still provide and bill for PT services by using independent contractor agreements with individual therapists or companies employing physical therapists if need be. The California Medical Association, California Orthopaedic Association, and other organizations are continuing their efforts to pass a permanent legislative fix to this issue. Adding PTs (and other providers) to the list of those who can be employed by medical corporations would resolve the situation.