Welcome to the Government Relations Committee!
Welcome to Government Relations! Our committee is one of the necessary components of every chapter and was designed to be a living, breathing and evolving resource for all Rhode Island AMTA members. We are here to provide understanding of our state’s legislative processes which directly effect our profession and provide information regarding regulation for licensed massage therapists. In order to keep our members informed of any changes that directly impact massage therapy, we will email through constant contact, provide updates within our quarterly newsletter, and rally all members through our national ENGAGE system should a quick response be required. Please know that our team is always available to answer questions anytime.
The Government Relations team is here to help with questions or issues relating to how our profession is impacted by laws: Government, State and Municipal. We work with the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Governance team on your behalf.
The National AMTA office provides us with monthly reports on legislation across the country. This link will take you to that site. http://www.cqstatetrack.com/texis/statetrack/insession/viewrpt?report=5890a08f221d&sid=&Report.workflow=tracking. The team reviews the legislation in our local region to see how it will impact the our members. We also have members that read the newspaper for local news that may impact us. When a call to action is needed we alert the membership via email constant contact. We provide official reports here on this website.
I would like to extend the following links to our members so that you can become more familiar and informed of what is happening legislatively on a state level. Take the initiative; track and follow what is currently happening within our profession :
Professional Board of Massage Therapy in Rhode Island
Legislation Amendments for 2019
The Government Relations Committee has been working on multiple things throughout the summer months. Over the past few years, there have been discussions among the membership about amending the massage therapy practice act, which includes our statute, scope of practice and definitions. With a recent shift toward integrating massage therapy within the health care field, it is important that we continue to align our profession so that we are viewed as a viable therapy option for client care, a referral source for health care professionals, and for progression of the profession. For such things to take place, we need to keep elevating our professional state licensure standards, which includes amending our minimum education hour requirements from an accredited program and clearly defining what massage therapy is and differentiating it from the massage therapy profession. The proposed increase in accredited hours creates reciprocity from state to state, thereby decreasing difficulties for therapists trying to relocate. We are also looking toward state mandated insurance liability coverage at the time of licensure and renewal. There have been inquiries about this process with the Department of Health; we are currently waiting to hear back from the state. Providing proof of insurance liability coverage is to ensure protection for massage therapists as they practice. Other states such as Indiana, New Jersey,and Kansas,to name a few, have already made this change to their state’s legislature. To make all these legislative changes possible, the GR committee has applied for and received a $20,000.00 LLEAD grant, which enables us to hire a lobbyist and advocate for these amendments in the next legislative session, which begins in January and extends through June 2019. Finally, a coalition is presently being formed and will be comprised of therapists throughout the state willing to be a part of amending our massage therapy practice act. If you would like to be a part of this effort, or if you have any questions regarding GR’s overall goals and objectives for the upcoming legislative session, please feel free to contact Cassie Rawcliffe at GovRel.AMTARI@gmail.com .
Update on Bill H 7499 and S 2537
Many of you have been receiving emails and information regarding the new bill put forth by our state’s Attorney General. Bill H 7499 & S 2537 are seeking health insurance coverage for non-pharmacological alternatives, such as massage therapy, to treat patients with substance-use disorders for pain management. Our profession, along with many others, has been singled out as one of the many effective therapies to treat chronic pain and should be an important element of governmental guidelines for helping to mitigate the overuse of opioids. James Specker, our National Director, Government & Industry Relations, has offered to speak with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office and provide further information on the efficacy and value of massage therapy for various ailments, especially pain management.
For further clarification, this bill is about the following:
WHAT: Health insurance coverage for alternative non-opioid treatments, such as massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
WHO: patients with substance-use disorders
WHEN: If bill passes, effective start date of January 1, 2019
Do I as a massage therapist have to start accepting health insurance? The short answer is no, you are not being mandated to accept insurance. It is a personal choice.
Will therapists need specific or additional training to be viewed as billable providers? This depends on a therapist’s prior education, training, and experience. Programs are being developed and/or amended to meet developing criteria for working with this population.
*In an effort to support this proposed bill, GR has activated the national ENGAGE system to inform its members of the importance of bill H 7499 and S 2537 as it is the first steps toward a positive progression of our profession within the health care field. If you are in favor of this legislation, please show your support by signing the electronic petition put in place by National AMTA and our GR team. Please use the link below:
Where the bill currently stands: As many of you know, things are swiftly moving throughout our state’s House and Senate regarding bill H 7499 and S 2537. On Tuesday, March 27th, the House held its hearing, allowing the public to come forth with testimony in either support or opposition of this bill. The results of the hearing revealed that the house committee recommended measure be held for further study. The Senate held their hearing on Tuesday, April 10th in the same format; again, allowing the public to come forward with testimony, evidence/research. They too came to the same conclusion: recommend measure to be held for further study. Lobby day, held on Thursday April 12th was a success as well. There were many professions, schools, and various programs represented at the state house, all speaking with our representatives, senators and lobbyists regarding support for this bill. There were opportunities for networking with our governing community and many instances of positive feedback from them.