Legislative Testimony for LB681, Adopt the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact
Good afternoon, Chairman Riepe and members of the Health and Human Services Committee. My name is Nicole Fox, and I am the Director of Government Relations for the Platte Institute. Thank you, Senator Blood, for introducing LB681. I am here today to testify in support of this bill.
Nebraska has approximately 1,900 licensed physical therapists and this compact will help them serve their clientele across state lines if necessary. By entering into the physical therapy licensure compact (PTLC) with other states, unlike national licensure initiatives, Nebraska retains sovereign authority to determine the requirements for licensure in the state, as well as maintaining the state’s scope of practice/work for any physical therapist (PT) or physical therapist assistant (PTA) coming to Nebraska on a compact privilege.
Fifteen states currently have passed licensure compact legislation: Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey[i], North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Fourteen states have pending legislation or are considering introducing compact legislation in 2018. Neighboring states Kansas and Iowa are also planning to introduce PTC legislation this year.
I’d like to illustrate how the state of Nebraska would benefit with the following examples: first, some of our hospital systems, including Methodist and CHI in Omaha, have facilities in both Nebraska and a neighboring state. It is not economical for PTs or PTAs or their employers to require a license for both states.
Second, Nebraska is home to Offutt Air Force Base. Those moving to Nebraska from other states due to military assignments would find it easier and quicker to enter our workforce. In the PTLC, a military spouse is given the option to use the home-of-record, permanent change of station, or state where currently residing as the home state. This increased flexibility allows three chances to get a PTLC member state. The PTLC means the military spouse will not incur long delays waiting for licensure and can resume working almost immediately after a duty-required move.
Third, in the rural parts of Western Nebraska, access to healthcare can be limited due a shortage of providers. Per a brief compiled by Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services and the Nebraska Center for Nursing, the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) reports that 66 of Nebraska’s counties have been deemed medically underserved and a majority of them are rural. Enabling this compact will allow us to address these underserved areas and provide telehealth health services to patients in the rural parts of our state.
Lastly, given the financial environment our state is currently in, the increased use of PTs has the potential to save Medicaid dollars.
The Platte Institute strongly supports occupational licensing reform as a means of lessening burdens to those trying to enter the state’s workforce, and adopting the PTLC would be a good reform for Nebraska to embrace. I ask that you advance LB 681 out of committee.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am happy to answer any questions the committee may have.
[i] New Jersey is awaiting the Governor’s signature to become law. It has already passed both chambers.