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.