L&I Will Pay for PT Provided by an ATC Beginning January 1, 2015

Below is an excerpt from the Department of Labor and Industries (LNI) Rule Making Order regarding payment for athletic trainer (AT) services issued today November 18, 2014:

Previously, Athletic Trainers’ scope of practice was limited to care provided to athletes. In 2014, the Legislature passed a new law (HB 2430) expanding Athletic Trainers (AT) scope of practice to include treatment of injured workers. In April 2014, the AT organization requested that L&I update its reimbursement rules, consistent with their expanded scope of practice, to allow reimbursement for AT services to injured workers. The effect of the rule change would be to expand the pool of licensed and qualified providers who could (within their scope of practice) provide treatment to injured workers.

Reference to RCW 18.74.180(3)(a) was added to clarify the level of supervision required of a physical therapist assistant and reference to RCW 18.250.010(4)(v) was added to clarify the level of supervision required of an athletic trainer. One housekeeping change was made in WAC 296-21-290 changing registered physical therapist to licensed physical therapist.

What this means is that beginning on January 1, 2015, physical therapy services provided by an athletic trainer to an injured worker are covered by LNI as long as specific provisions are met:

  1. The AT is directly supervised by a physical therapist, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician or the attending doctor described under the LNI WAC 296-21-290(2) Physical Medicine rule. Direct supervision means the supervising physical therapist must:
    • Be continuously on-site and present in the department or facility where assistive personnel or holders of interim permits are performing services;
    • Be immediately available to assist the person being supervised in the services being performed; and
    • Maintain continued involvement in appropriate aspects of each treatment session in which a component of treatment is delegated to assistive personnel.
  2. The AT is working under a plan of care established by a physical therapist, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician or the attending doctor described under the WAC 296-21-290(2) physical medicine rule.
  3. The physical therapist may supervise a total of two assistive personnel, including an AT at any one time.

If you have any questions about this new injured workers rule, please contact PTWA.

PTWA President Elaine Armantrout, PT, DSc, ECS

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