Alaska Legislature Passes Bill to Strengthen Practice of Physical and Occupational Therapy

JUNEAU – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed legislation sponsored by Representative Matt Claman that amends the governing statutes for physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants practicing in Alaska. House Bill 99 makes changes designed to bring Alaska statutes in line with national standards and terminology, and overall improves the administrative experience of these professionals and updates the laws.

 

In an effort to place public interest first and foremost, the Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Associations support a more balanced representation on its Board and proposes to replace the seat for a physician with an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant.

 

“When the membership of the board’s guiding statute was first enacted, physicians supervised physical and occupational therapists. Physician supervision is no longer required since PT/OT are independent professions with the entry level degree for Physical and Occupational Therapy being at the doctoral level. This change will bring improved representation from both professions to the board,” said Representative Matt Claman (D – Anchorage).

 

House Bill 99 also removes from statute specific names of organizations who historically exercised certification oversight of the PT/OT profession educational programs. The new language provides latitude to the board to conform to changes in national accrediting bodies should they become obsolete or irrelevant to Alaska’s PT/OT professions.

 

“The Board further recognized there were some statutes requiring clarification related to foreign educated applicants. House Bill 99 makes necessary changes to clarify licensing requirements for these applicants. Included in the bill are several housekeeping amendments to clean up outdated terminology to achieve alignment with national trends and standards,” said Rep. Claman.

 

House Bill 99 passed the Alaska House of Representatives on May 18, 2021, by a vote of 38 – 2. The Alaska State Senate passed the bill today, Monday, May 16, 2022, by a unanimous vote of 19 – 0. HB 99 will be sent to the governor for his signature.

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