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Massage Today
February 15, 2012

Change in Obscure Tenn. Law Targets Profession

By Editorial Staff

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: The Tennessee bill 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, has 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."

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."

The state of Tennessee now has a bill before its state legislature that will have a significant impact on the massage therapy profession and its standing with consumers.

The current bills before the Tennessee General Assembly (HB2387/SB2249) would change the current law which classifies massage therapy under the Department of Health Related Boards and move massage therapy under the jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce and Insurance. The change is difficult to detect if looking to find this information on the General Assembly web site. Even the language in the bill refers readers back to other state codes to hunt for the change.

They key change appears in Sections 11 and 12 of the bill where it states, "Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 63, Chapter 18 is transferred in its entirety to Title 62, Chapter 45." The change is buried beneath other changes and even the summary makes the bill sound harmless. "As introduced, decreases the size of the board of directors for the Duck River Development Agency from 17 to 12; authorizes the commissioner of environment and conservation to appoint an executive to carry out the purposes of the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2005; revises other various provisions governing certain state agencies, committees, boards and commissions..."

tennessee - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Kris Bour, a massage therapist and instructor for Anthem Education Group in Nashville believes massage therapists, "need to be regulated by the board of health because we are a health care provider. This devalues us and everything we as a profession strive for. Moving us will make it impossible for us to ever bill for insurance and could have an impact on massage therapists working in hospitals. It may also make us a taxable service, putting massage that much further out of the public's reach and could have a higher attrition rate for therapists who just don't want to deal with getting nickeled and dimed to death anymore."

Laura Allen, who posted this and other important legislative information on the Massage Today Women in Business Blog, believes therapists must communicate their opposition to this bill with their legislators. "What this does is basically reclassify massage therapy from being a health profession to a ‘trade.' Insurance companies don't pay tradespeople; they pay health care professionals. I cannot urge you enough to pay attention to this, no matter where you are. When something detrimental like this happens, it just paves the way for other states to follow the leader."

At this time, no amendments have been added and the AMTA Tennessee Chapter has posted a sample letter that massage therapists can send to their elected representatives to ask that sections 11 and 12 be removed from this bill. At this time, it's unclear how massage therapy was included in this bill. To find your Tennessee legislator or read the bill summary and text, visit

Editor's Note: There are additional legislative actions being taken in Iowa and Florida that will impact the massage therapy profession. Look for additional coverage of this legislation in the next issue of Massage Today.


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