Proposed Legislation Takes MTs Out of Insurance Loop

Florida SB 1860,  introduced on January 17 by Senator Negron, will remove the right of massage therapists and acupuncturists to bill PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance for those who have been injured in auto accidents. I don’t have any statistics regarding how many FL therapists currently file these types of claims, but based on my interactions on social networks, I would estimate that it’s quite a few. I suggest a mass protest is in order. You can find your legislators here. Contact them immediately and ask them not to support this bill.

In Tennessee, HB 2387/SB2249 seeks to remove the massage therapy board from under the auspices of the Department of Health Related Boards and move them to the Department of Commerce and Insurance. 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.You can find your TN legislators here.

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.

Even the acts of searching for, and reading legislation or proposed legislation, is a tricky thing. A prime example is that when you search for the bill in Tennessee, this is the description:

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 director to carry out the purposes of the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2005; revises other various provisions governing the structure of certain state agencies, committees, boards and commissions.

At first glance, people may see that and think, “Why do I care about the Duck River Development Agency?” It’s important to recognize that massage legislation is frequently slid into a proposed bill under some other name or description…legislation affecting massage therapists has been, and will continue to be, introduced as part of a highway bill, a farm bill, a utilities bill…bills are known by the prefix “HB” (for House Bill) and “SB” (for Senate Bill) followed by their number. They tend to get mentioned in the media as “the proposed highway bill” and since the part affecting massage therapists is usually hidden in the middle somewhere, it’s easy to go unnoticed, were it not for the diligence of the professional associations paying attention. While I am a member of both AMTA and ABMP and both have government relations representatives who monitor legislation and offer support or interference as they deem fit, I don’t always agree with them. They don’t always agree with each other. The thing to do is read any proposed bill and decide for yourself whether it’s worthy of protest.

Unrelated to insurance, but still of concern, is proposed legislative changes in Southern Nevada. Among other things, it contains the ridiculous mandate that a massage therapy room is required to be lit to “20 foot-candles”. For those who don’t know, a foot-candle is basically a one-foot diameter circle of light thrown out by the average candle. If your massage therapy room happens to be 10 x 10, you will be expected to have the same amount of illumination in the room you would have if you had 20 candles going. That is a 300% increase of what the Nevada Administrative Code currently requires. Just turn on the overhead light and get on with it. Very relaxing…NOT!  Apparently some legislators have too much time on their hands.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll offer it again: I urge you to pay attention to what’s going on in your own state–one of the best reasons to belong to a professional association. Their websites contain regular legislative updates. Any time detrimental legislation is on the horizon, I attempt to get the word out, and it never fails that in the month or two after something bad happening, I get a lot of calls and e-mails saying “What can we do?” You can’t do zip after it has happened. You must act to stop it before it’s passed.

10 Replies to “Proposed Legislation Takes MTs Out of Insurance Loop”

  1. Thanks for posting these updates, Laura –

    there are many ways to get hold of this information…RSS Feeds at government websites, getting ON their email or snail mail lists, and checking the Agenda webpages for agencies. Attend a meeting once in a while and subscribe to newsletters and be a member of a professional association that dedicates member resources to addressing government relations issues regularly.
    And there are even more ways to address legislative issues; those “many ways” are each individual that HAS an opinion and is willing to put it on record with the regulatory bodies that want to affect those individuals. “For” or “Against”: social media brings the Question to yet another table – it is a professional imperative for each of us to Answer it.

    Walls stop Machines – Bricks make Walls – We are the Bricks. Only a few Bricks make us a speed bump.

  2. I am currently living and working in Las Vegas and am already required to hold a SNHD Health Card to give massage as well as all the other requirements that come with the area. After reading thru the proposed ruling, I did notice that the 20 candle requirement was mitigated a bit with a point that allowed for dimming the lighting during massage sessions. That being said, I think it is the only redeeming thing in the whole package. Two of us share a room and the rent at a salon that is the only room for massage in the place and, the way I read it, all three of us, two MT’s and the owner, would need another license to meet the same standards that we’re already held to. This would probably drive some therapists to the point of working without licensing and will not have any affect on those who are not working with licenses already. The SNHD is already tasked with doing what it wants to charge us for extra licenses to start doing. What they need to do is get busy doing what they are supposed to do and start enforcing the requirements that are in effect and find those that are not licensed so they can force them to comply, not make those of us that are complying pay for more licenses so they can find us. We are already easy to find as we have all the required licenses and they can inspect us whenever they like. Thanks for letting me vent.

  3. Thanks for these updates, Laura. We need to stop and think about why this is happening. Here is one possible answer, and I quote you: “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.” There are discussions all over the web about whether or not we are a health profession and what that means. Many massage therapists don’t want to be part of health care and many do. We need to get this figured out for ourselves because, obviously, it will be (and is being) figured out for us as we sit around arguing. In my opinion, we need a set of national competencies for the entry level practice of massage therapy–to start.

  4. I agree with Jan. Now, I am from Canada, where massage therapy is a legislated profession in 3 provinces, with at least 2 more in the process of becoming legislated, and most of the remaining provinces holding to the same standards. the standard of education here is 2200 hours of training, at least twice as much as in the US.

    We also see the struggle between “relaxation/spa” massage, therapeutic massage, and “alternative health” massage. I, personally, think there should be two different types of massage. In my opinion, an RMT (Registered Massage Therapist – what we call it) should be considered a health care professional, but those who wish to do the “alternative” and/or “relaxation/spa” styles should have their own licensing – perhaps under esthetics. I agree, though – we DO need to figure this out, and SOON!

  5. Thank you, Laura. Yes, this is more than just extremely serious – this would mean the end of numerous medical clinics that I know of personally and perhaps thousands statewide; it requires a concerted effort to have the bill amended before 1st July 2012: the date it actually becomes effective. Petitions and formal protests are needed. All of us: Massage Therapists, Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, Acupuncturists and all Members of Staff including the Insurance Billing Departments in the clinics that bill for Massage Therapy or Acupuncture treatments under PIP need to deliver a message – probably in person – to Rick Scott. I suggest the following dress code and accompaniments: suits with ties where appropriate, white lab coats for those who wear them or scrubs, briefcases with most recent tax returns on hand to show what it will mean if we are deprived of the income we derive from our medical field and proof of taxes that will no longer be paid to the state of Florida. I have the ability to contact and provide media coverage. Anyone interested in helping with the orchestration of this, please contact me directly at

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  8. You’re so awesome! I don’t think I have read through something like this before.
    So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject matter.
    Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is one thing that is required on the web, someone with a little originality!

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