Blog Post

Breaking News: PTAs and OTAs Officially Authorized as Tricare Providers

Great News just in for those with Tricare. Starting in April 2020, PTAs and OTAs can begin treating Tricare patients.

Kylie McKee
5 min read
March 17, 2020
image representing breaking news: ptas and otas officially authorized as tricare providers
Share this post:


Get the latest news and tips directly in your inbox by subscribing to our monthly newsletter

Okay, everyone, are you ready for some good news? I know I am. After much delay, physical therapist assistants and occupational therapy assistants may begin treating Tricare patients starting April 16, 2020. Rejoice!

As we initially reported in this post, on December 12, 2017, President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act, opening the door for PTAs and OTAs to join the Tricare payment program and establishing supervision requirements for therapist assistants treating Tricare patients. However, there was still a lot of confusion—especially with regard to when, exactly, this change would actually take effect.

Finally, we have answers.

Thanks to a long-awaited final rule passed down from the Department of Defense (DoD), starting April 16, 2020, all eligible PTAs and OTAs may begin treating Tricare patients and receiving reimbursement under the Tricare program. The final rule also includes other related specifications. Some key takeaways—as adapted from this APTA resource—are:

  • Tricare’s qualification and supervision requirements will be similar to Medicare’s. A licensed physical therapist (PT) or occupational therapist (OT) must provide direct supervision of the PTA or OTA, respectively, in private practice settings.
  • Outside of private practice, the assistant must be under general supervision.
  • When federal law conflicts with state or local supervision laws, the therapist and assistant must follow whichever law is more stringent. If, for example, the federal law requires general supervision but the state requires the supervising therapist to be in the same room with the assistant while he or she renders services, the therapist and assistant must follow the state law.
  • Like other payers, Tricare will not pay for any service—skilled or otherwise—rendered by a physical therapy aide or physical therapy tech.
  • Per the APTA’s recommendation, the DoD has shifted its terminology and now refers to PTAs as “physical therapist assistants” as opposed to “physical therapy assistants.”

If any new Tricare information comes down the pike, we’ll be sure to keep you updated. But for now, we hope this bit of positive news brings a smile to your face. Have Tricare questions? Let us know in the comment section below!


KLAS award logo for 2024 Best-in-KLAS Outpatient Therapy/Rehab
Best in KLAS  2024
G2 rating official logo
Leader Spring 2024
Capterra logo
Most Loved Workplace 2023
TrustRadius logo
Most Loved 2024
Join the PXM revolution!

Learn how WebPT’s PXM platform can catapult your practice to new heights.

Get Started
two patients holding a physical therapist on their shoulders