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Massage Today
December, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 12

We Get Letters & E-Mail

More Perspectives on Legislative Problems in PA

By Editorial Staff

The following three letters to the editor comment on LaRose Daniels' article, "Legislative Problems in Pennsylvania," which appeared in the November issue.

(To read the original article, click here.) The first letter was submitted by LaRose herself; the second and third letters were submitted by members of the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA), which is also working on exemption language for the proposed bill.

Dear Editor:

Thank you for this opportunity to respond to Ms. Flagg's comments regarding the article about legislative problems in Pennsylvania. Ms. Flagg suggests that APTA waited until it was too late in the process to get an exemption into the bill. This is inaccurate.

APTA has made its needs clear all along, which resulted in polarity therapy having a title exemption in the bill, until Ms. Flagg unilaterally removed it. Once it was removed, APTA has asked repeatedly that it be reinstated, and has provided the coalition in PA with model language as developed by the energy practices of the Federation.

Unfortunately, the coalition, of which APTA is a member, is not working according to the consensus process. It is a serious problem when one practice decides it can override and dictate to another practice.

LaRose Daniels, MS, RPP
Board Member and Immediate Past President,
APTA Legislative Coordinator, APTA

Dear Editor:

This is in reply to your November cover story. For the record, AOBTA has been involved with the PA legislative coalition since the beginning. George Fleck began working with them, and we stepped in when we took over as AOBTA state representatives.

In the last few meetings, the mood in the coalition has changed. Previously, it had been one of joint effort and concern for all involved. Now, the AMTA just wants the bill passed, and it seems that it doesn't care who it affects adversely. AMTA truly believes its exemption wording will cover any touch profession that doesn't want to be in the bill, and we disagree. Our continued objections to the wording were not recorded in the minutes of any of the meetings. If AMTA didn't insist on having such a broad scope of practice, we wouldn't have the need for specific exemptions.

The PA bill isn't great for massage therapists, either, since they would share a revolving seat on the board with dieticians. So, for two years, they'd have no control over what goes on. Who would want that?

As Asian bodywork therapists, we are not opposed to licensing, so long as it's equitable. But we demand a voice in the legislative process, and want to have a seat on a board that legislates to us. Is that so hard to understand? We primarily want exemption from this bill because it gives us absolutely no voice. The Nursing Board (with one dietician or massage person) could easily ignore our Asian bodywork therapy education and credentials, requiring that we all go to massage school. (This has happened in other states.) This could severely limit our practices. We're not saying it will happen, but it could, and we need to be wary of that.

Despite AMTA's statement about only granting exemptions to practices with "recognized legal definitions," the bill, as it now stands, does have an exemption for reflexology by name. It is our understanding that reflexology does not have legal trademark status for its modality. At the coalition meeting, it was explained that, because reflexology had been working with the coalition for a long time, it was allowed the requested exemption.

As we've noted before, the AOBTA has also been involved in the coalition process for a long time, yet we were not given the same courtesy. If the AMTA can give a specific exemption to one profession, it must give it to others. We must stand up for ourselves and fight for our rights, before they are swept away.

Pattie Middlemiss, MSN, RN, ABT
PA State Representative, AOBTA

Susan Wood, ABT
PA State Representative, AOBTA

Dear Editor:

I have been a Jin Shin Do® practitioner for 27 years. Our profession has had its own "legal definition" for about 30 years. Twenty years ago, even though I had studied my profession for seven years, I was required to attend massage school for a year to qualify to sit for a licensing exam to touch in New York State. I am now a Pennsylvania resident, but I see the same type of legislation being proposed here.

In response to the comments submitted by Retta Flagg and Ron Precht, I think their words point directly to the concerns of non-massage bodywork practitioners. First, the discussion over the exemption clause at coalition meetings did not begin at the July meeting. AOBTA representatives questioned the language from the beginning, and sent to the coalition president language agreed upon by six of the seven members of the Federation of Massage, Bodywork and Somatic Practice Organizations, of which AMTA is a member.

The AMTA language leaves a large opening for interpretation by massage-oriented regulating agencies (as in New York) to define all touch therapy as massage, and thus to subsume all other bodywork practices under its auspices. This of course would require anyone practicing non-massage bodywork in states with these laws in the books to spend significant time and money to study a discipline unrelated to their work, just to be "legal" under these definitions.

I do not begrudge people their attempts to strengthen their economic base, except where it infringes unfairly on the livelihood of others. Essentially, this tactic supports a monopoly on touch therapy education and definition.

Deborah Valentine Smith, LMT
Senior Instructor, Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure
Certified Instructor, AOBTA, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM)


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