When Punxsutawney Phil - the legendary groundhog - leaves his burrow on February 2 every year, he looks for his shadow. If he sees his shadow,it predicts another 6 weeks of winter ahead. That’s a pretty lousy thought when you live in a northern state.
If you are a patient, or a physical therapist perchance, in the state of Texas, there is a similar phenomenon that takes place every two years. It’s the physical therapy version of Groundhog Day.
Imagine emerging from the state capital and looking for your shadow. If you see your shadow, it entails another two year wait to introduce yet another bill to address the same issue all over again. You have to start over from scratch.
Groundhog Day came early this year. Usually, it takes place on a day they call Sine Die: the last day of the legislative session. The session ends and all bills left pending - which typically includes a patient access to physical therapy bill - just fade away into the ether.
Special interest groups in Texas are like the blazing sun. They cast the shadow of campaign contributions over just about everything. And when they want a shadow, they make it so.
Every two years, physical therapists in the state of Texas invariably see their shadow, forcing the legislative equivalent of 6 more weeks of winter - two years at the Capitol - upon us.
HB 1263 died in Calendars Committee. Although it was voted out of the Public Health committee, it never saw the light of the House floor. You barely heard the whimper of its demise. You certainly didn’t see any legislative backlash on it from constituents or a scathing editorial or press release. It was as though it all took place in the dead of night.
In the words of Ernest Thayer in “Casey At The Bat” …
Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.
So here we sit. Again.
For another 2 years, a patient’s civil liberties will be limited. They will be unable to freely, and of their own volition, make a choice related to their own health care.
For another 2 years, a physical therapist’s trade will be restrained in the state of Texas by a legalized monopoly disguised as things like “patient safety” and other disingenuous crap.
Punxsutawney Phil is a lucky groundhog. A 6 month wait sounds downright appealing these days.
Physical therapists around the state will be proclaiming that “we got a little further this time than last time”. Sadly, I find no reason for celebration in Mudville.
Winter has been in full effect for decades in Texas. It’s about time for a change in the weather.
Photo credits: Anthony Quintano