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Massage Today
July, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 07

West Virginia Bill Could Negatively Impact Massage Therapists

By Rebecca J. Razo

Newly enacted legislation in West Virginia will allow chiropractic assistants to administer massage therapy under the guidance of chiropractors. House Bill (HB) 2669, designed to promulgate legislative rules affecting several state agencies, passed the Senate on April 9, 2005; Gov.

Joe Manchin signed the bill into law a month later. Among other things, the bill approves an amendment to the rule overseeing the practice of chiropractic in West Virginia by adding the word "massage" to the duties of chiropractic assistants.1,2

According to the West Virginia Massage Therapy Licensure Board (WVMTLB), massage therapists initiated letter writing campaigns, made phone calls, and even issued an eleventh-hour request to Gov. Manchin to veto the bill, all to no avail. The new law has many West Virginia therapists concerned and wondering what impact it will have on the practice of massage in their state. The massage board believes the rule violates state laws regarding massage licensure.

"When a state has licensure, [it] require[s] all practitioners of massage therapy to be licensed," said WVMTLB Chair Joan Wysong in an e-mail message to Massage Today. "If chiropractors who are not trained in massage were allowed to train their assistants to practice massage techniques, it would be a conflict. As a board we are protecting the public from a potential situation that would cause harm."

Calls to the West Virginia Board of Chiropractic Examiners were not returned; however, an article in The Charleston Gazette indicated that the purpose of the new language isn't intended to allow chiropractic assistants to perform full massage, but rather to allow them to prepare patients for chiropractic treatment.3

But Wysong remains steadfast in her position. "Massage therapists are trained and then licensed by the state, and that law needs to be respected," she said.

Massage Today will report relevant updates on this situation as they become available.

References

  1. Title 4, ¤30-16-5. Legislative Rule. West Virginia Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Series 1: Regulation of Chiropractic Practice. "Chiropractic Assistants." Page 8. Filed with the West Virginia Secretary of State. Feb. 1, 2005.
  2. West Virginia House Bill 2669, enrolled. www.legis.state.wv.us.
  3. Messina, Lawrence. Massage therapist board seeks bill veto. The Charleston Gazette. April 21, 2005. www.wvgazette.com.

 

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