The Battle over Massage Licensing: Coast to Coast


You may not know, but massage licensing legislation is a pretty hot topic with therapists in California and New York right now.


Less than two years after the passage of Senate Bill 731 established the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), Assembly Bill 1822 aimed to revoke the progress CA therapists had made in establishing a voluntary statewide certification system for California therapists.


The passage of AB 1822 would have reinstated individual city or country regulations of massage, resulting in CA therapists having to acquire permits for each of the local jurisdictions they practice within - a potentially expensive endeavor.


Due to the response of therapists in California, AB 1822 has undergone numerous revisions. The newest version maintains language to which the CAMTC is opposed. The bill still requires 2 law enforcement officers to be added to the CAMTC board. The measure is unprecedented for any self-regulating health profession board.


44 of the 50 states have boards that regulate massage - none of them have police officers mandated to be board members. The California bill would be the first of its kind in the nation. There is no telling how such a precedent could potentially affect licensing in other states and for other professions.


On August 27, 2010, as members of the state Senate debated AB 1822, Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, is quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as saying, "I don't know if we're going to have a happy ending after this discussion today." This statement's humor is lost for many CA therapists who are fighting to keep the rights other health professions are automatically given.


The bill failed to receive enough votes to pass on the 27th. The state Senate will reconsider the measure on Monday the 30th of August, with a definitive vote occurring before the Senate closes on the 1st of September. If you want your voice heard in CA, go here.


New York's controversial legislation, SB 5431, requires that massage therapists in New York complete 36 hours of approved continuing education every three years. So what is the big deal? That's pretty typical.


The other side of this bill is that it requires "sponsors of massage therapy continuing education [be] approved by the department of consultation with the state board for massage therapy." CE providers wishing to teach in New York would have to apply with the department and pay a hefty $900 fee to teach in the state. That's on top of what they already pay to become a Nationally Approved Provider through the NCBTMB.


That's not the end of it! CE providers who are not licensed in the Big Apple can only offer lecture-based courses unless they would like to hire a New York licensed therapist to assist the class. Only therapists holding a New York license can teach hands-on course components. The New York bill will make it impossibly expensive to teach CE courses in New York, especially for out of state therapists. Not to mention the effect it might have on therapists' ability to travel out of state for educational offerings.


The bill has passed both houses and was delivered to New York Governor David A. Paterson on the 18th of August. The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education sent a letter asking him to veto Senate Bill 5431.


And the battle continues...


Let us know what you think!

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