Why I’m Optimistic that 2014 Will Be Our Year to Get Our Spinal Manipulation Bill Passed

I invite you to join us in Olympia for Legislative Impact Day on Thursday January 23rd. So why am I optimistic that 2014 will be our year to shine? We’ve done everything possible to get to an agreement with the Washington State Chiropractic Association. We’ve done everything asked of us by legislators. We negotiated, engaged actively in mediation and accepted compromise in good faith. Unfortunately, the chiropractor group wasn’t able to let go of their party line: mandating equivalent hours of chiropractic education and training. After eight months, professional mediators recognized the futility of continued dialog and declared an impasse.

            We’ve gone from simply striking the spinal manipulation prohibition language from our law to placing specific parameters around who can perform the procedure – making this the strictest PT spinal manipulation law in the nation. Even if you never intend to perform spinal manipulation in your practice, this core issue is important to you. No one profession holds a monopoly on a treatment technique. It’s bad for our patients and it’s bad for the economy. We’ve got the training, the safety record and the evidence to support our practice. Let consumers decide where they want to go for treatment.

Common Questions From PTWA Members:

1.     Why is this bill taking so long?

It’s often a difficult and lengthy process to remove prohibition language from a scope of practice law. We’ve spent the past six years negotiating and trying to reach agreement. Most of the time, opposing parties are eventually able to reach agreement about legislation and legislators prefer that outcome. We needed help, so legislators suggested a mediation process. Last October, when public policy mediators decided that we couldn’t come to an agreement, that was the end of the road. We made a number of concessions in this bill and can honestly show legislators that we did everything we could to reach agreement.

 2.      Why are we being so nice?

This is the strength of our reputation and the foundation of our political work. We seek opinions and ask for support from both sides of the aisle, from Republicans and Democrats. We’re known for our honesty and fairness. This is who we are and what we stand for.

It has nothing to do with being nice; rather it has everything to do with negotiating in good faith. This is not an issue that will be pushed through the Legislature; it’s one that legislators have insisted that we try to come to an agreement on with our opposition. 

 3.      It seems like all of our efforts are in vain.

Legislators asked us to use formal mediation to work out a compromise on bill language with the chiropractor group. After eight months of dedicated work, the neutral party professional policy mediators declared an impasse. After mediation ended, the chiropractor group sent their latest proposal to which we agreed to conditionally accept six out of nine of their specific provisions.

They steadfastly refuse to recognize our PT education and training model. We reject their unrelenting demand that physical therapists receive over 1,000 hours of chiropractic education and training in order to perform spinal manipulation.

We can say to legislators that we’ve done all we can do to get to common ground.

 4.      I have more important things to do.

We’re all volunteers with jobs and family commitments. I’m in awe of the time, money and energy spent by our members who take the day off to come to Olympia. Legislative Impact Day is our time to shine with our yellow umbrellas.

Our march to the Capital Campus sends a powerful message. Legislators love to meet with us face-to-face. They understand our issues. If you can’t be there in person, please be sure to contact your state Representatives and Senator and ask them for their vote on our bill. Email contact with your legislators takes very little time but the payoff is huge!

 5.      There are issues that matter more to me.

We represent such a broad range of practice: head to toe, newborn to elderly, eight specialty areas, etc. Even though one person can’t possibly practice all of what physical therapy encompasses, we know the importance of having all of the tools available in our PT tool kit.

The whole purpose behind LID is to speak to our legislators with one big voice about the practice issues of the current year and to help legislators put a face to a name. We need to ask our legislators to make the decision to allow physical therapists to provide the best evidence-based care to patients. This includes removing the prohibition on spinal manipulation from our practice act. In future years it could be something that hits closer to home for your practice. We’re all in this together.

Elaine

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