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Massage Today
April, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 04

Legislative Changes in Several States

Bills In Tennessee, Iowa And Florida Have The Profession Taking Action.

By Kathryn Feather, Senior Associate Editor

A series of bills across the nation have put the spotlight on massage therapy and the profession is making its voice heard.

Massage therapists in Tennessee, Iowa and Florida are getting involved in the legislative process. As of press time, here are the updates to the legislative battles happening in each of these states.

Tennessee

The Tennessee bills currently before the state legislature that previously sought to move the classification of massage therapy from the Department of Health Related Boards and place it under the Department of Commerce and Insurance, have now been amended to remove all references to the massage therapy profession. According to AMTA-TN Chapter President, Maj-Lis Nash, after being inundated with e-mails and phone calls, the Governor's office told her, "it was never the intention of the office of the Governor to imply that massage was not health related, and that the bill would be amended to completely remove the sections pertaining to massage therapy. Our massage board will remain under the Health Related Boards."

legislative - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark A statement released by the national office of the AMTA stated: "AMTA and the AMTA-TN Chapter would like to thank Governor Haslam for his willingness to work with massage therapy stakeholders to ensure an outcome that benefits everyone involved. We applaud the Governor for his commitment to massage therapy as a health-related profession and to protect both the public and our profession."

Iowa

Iowa House File 2342 has generated quite a bit of discussion regarding education requirements and how those requirements effect portability. In its current form, the bill states that: "In order to be licensed under current law, a massage therapist must complete a massage education curriculum at a school approved by the board of massage therapy requiring at least 600 hours of supervised academic instruction. This bill eliminates the 600-hour requirement and substitutes specific educational requirements and requires approval of massage therapy schools by the board of massage therapy."

The bill is sponsored by Representative Matt Windschitl and at this point the language doesn't make it clear why the change in educational requirements and what this change seeks to accomplish. It doesn't spell out what those new specific requirements will be and without a benchmark, how does a school obtain "approval by the board?" Without a specific hour requirement, would it be possible for anyone who can learn to take a national certification exam to obtain a license without having many hours actually performing massage therapy? These and other questions have been swirling around social media and massage therapy blog sites. Massage Today will continue to follow this legislation and provide updates as it progresses.

Keith Eric Grant, a board member of the California Massage Therapy Council said he "doubts that the original intent of the bill was to eliminate the educational requirements. On the other hand, legislators often don't realize how sensitive such issues are within the massage community. There's been too many instances of massage bills being pushed that didn't have prior consensus. There is certainly naivete, at best, in considering pushing for legislation without getting all massage stakeholders aware and onboard."

The bill was submitted to the commerce committee for a reading where it currently sits. To read the bill in its current form and to track its progress, visit http://coolice.legis.state.ia.us/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=billinfo&Service=Billbook&frame=1&GA=84&hbill=HF2342. To find our who your state representative is and contact them to share your thoughts on this bill, visit https://www.legis.iowa.gov/Legislators/house.aspx.

Florida

Massage therapists and acupuncturists have been drawn into the battle over Florida's personal injury protection (PIP) insurance fraud problems. PIP fraud costs Florida drivers hundreds of millions of dollars annually and Gov. Rick Scott has made reforming this problem one of his top priorities. The Florida House passed the bill (HB119) on Friday, March 2, 2012, and it was under debate in the state Senate as this issue goes to press. Senate Bill 1860, in its current form, puts no time limit on treatment but eliminates massage therapy and acupuncture, now covered under PIP, after an accident.

Massage Today columnist and massage therapy insurance expert, Vivian Madison Mahoney believes "excluding massage therapy is not only discrimination, but will not solve the fraud, accident staging and money making schemes caused by organized criminals." Mahoney believes this bill further limits the health care options for Florida residents without really addressing the loop holes used by those engaging in fraudulent insurance practices. To view the bill as it was debated, visit www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2012/1860/BillText/c2/HTML.

As this issue goes to press, SB1860 is scheduled for a vote on Friday, March 9, 2012. Visit www.massagetoday.com for the latest on this legislation and how it will impact Florida massage therapists.

 

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