San Diego PT Clinic Closing Yet POPTS Clinics Have a 4 Week Wait for Patients to Get In…

June 16, 2011

STOP POPTS recently had a conversation with a San Diego independent practice owner, Michael Levas, PT that is facing the closure of his 5th of 6 clinics.

He shared with us that a couple of patients have called his office because the orthopedic surgeons, that referred them to their own POPTS clinic, can’t get in for an appointment for 4 weeks!

Here’s his statement as well:

My name is Michael Levas and I have been practicing Physical Therapy on a full time basis for the past 36 years and I have been in private practice for 26 of those years. I feel it is important for me to share with you my experience and interaction that I have experienced firsthand with physicians owning Physical Therapy clinics. This short description cannot explain the emotional and financial implications that it had on me and my family or my employees. I can only describe the following scenario as ‘the tip of the iceberg”.

I opened my very first private office in January 1985 after opening, developing and managing an outpatient program for a nearby hospital for 5 years where I developed many relationships with physicians. Three months after I opened my office I was approached by two physicians that referred to me on a regular basis. These two physicians informed that they had formed a partnership with 14 other physicians most all of them who referred to me. They continued to inform me that they would like me to manage their new venture but I was not allowed to be a partner or have ownership. They continued to make it very clear that they would pursue this venture with or without me. They also informed me should I agree to join them that they would only pay me “pennies on the dollar” for my equipment.

After several weeks of agonizing over the decision I felt it might be best for the security of my family to join the physician group. Once I started with them I realized I had made a huge mistake and I deeply regretted my decision. My tenure lasted 9 months before I gave my resignation.

I once again ventured out on my own with no referral sources and struggled for several years as I sat back and watched the Physician Owned Physical Therapy Services (POPTS) practice grow every year.

In 1994 when the Stark Bill was passed and physicians had to disband their physical therapy clinics I was able to recapture some of the referral sources that I had lost and once again rebuild my practice. In a ten year period I went from one office to six and from three employees to forty and I had geographically covered San Diego County. In 2003 when the Stark Bill II was passed that once again allowed physicians to own physical therapy clinics it made a devastating effect on my business. As my so called “physician friends” were opening their P.T. practices they assured me “this was nothing personal against me”, it was “just a business decision”. In an eighteen month period I was forced to close four offices and lay off thirty employees and that  left me to deal with the landlords on the remaining months on my leases.  Currently, I have reduced my business down to two offices and I now have six employees.

Ms. Hayashi stated Monday, June 13th in her testimony that AB 783 won’t harm independent physical therapy practices.  While I could not attend the committee hearing, I am just one example of many hard-working, professional physical therapists that have suffered the same fate as mine.  Physicians are in a position to “MONOPOLIZE and CONTROL the market”.  Furthermore, the fear or concern that therapist that works for POPTS will lose their jobs should not be a concern. Without physician ownership in P.T. clinics have thousands of job options  and many will be reabsorbed and hired by private practice owners.

I strongly urge all of you to vote no on AB 783.


Michael G. Levas P.T. OCS,

Cert. MDT

Special thanks to Michael Levas for sharing his story.

NOTE: the APTA has published survey data in their POPTS Survival Guide that indicates that 80% of all independent physical therapists have been negatively affected by POPTS.

The real victims here are 1. patients, 2. employees, 3. small business owners!


1. It’s a job killer

2. It results in substandard care

3. It costs CA $233,000,000/yr in unnecessary Work Comp costs

4. It’s a monopoly on referrals.

Stop the Madness!!!

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