AMTA-WA November 2023 Public Policy Report

Prepared by Leslie Emerick, AMTA-WA Lobbyist  

I had a great learning experience at the Pacific Northwest Massage Showcase and Expo in Portland on October 16th! Patty did a good job of organizing interesting speakers with my favorite being keynote speaker: Dr. Gladys McGarey, 102 years old, known as “the Mother of Holistic Medicine” who recently released her book: The Well-Lived Live: A 102 Year-Old Doctor’s Six Secrets to Health and Happiness at Every Age.” 

We had good conversations on the Interstate Massage Compact with national rep Christine Hoober and a presentation by Dr. Debra Persinger, executive director of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). I am not sure we made any headway on a decision for the next legislative session in WA state… but its still under discussion! I especially enjoyed seeing the Pacific NW Massage Open Championship…that was a real eye opener! 

Legislative/Political Landscape 

November is a really busy time of year getting ready for the 2024 legislative session! There is also lots of agency rulemaking happening for health care bills that passed last session. Legislators will be coming to Olympia for the Fall Legislative Days. The Senate meets 11/30-12/1 and the House meets 12/4 and 12/5.  I am setting up meetings with members of the House and Senate Health Care Committees to discuss our legislative agenda for the 2024 session. Session begins on January 8th, 2024 and the 60-day short session of the legislature goes quite quickly so its nice to get these meeting scheduled now. I will attend a number of public hearings:
Senate Health & Long Term Care – 11/30/2023 10:30 AM

Location: J.A. Cherberg Bldg., Senate Hearing Rm 4 and Virtual

Work Session

  1. Update from the Universal Health Care Commission.
  2. Update on the ground ambulance balance billing study.
  3. COVID-19 and respiratory illness vaccine update.

House Health Care & Wellness – 12/4/2023 1:30 PM

 View Docs Meeting videos are provided by TVW. 

Location: John L. O’Brien Building,  House Hearing Rm A and Virtual

Work Session

  1. Public health initiatives and funding.
  2. Telemedicine and health care technology.
  3. Health care workforce.

Board of Massage (BOM)

Next meeting is on November 9, 2023, Hybrid Virtual and In-Person 

Location: Dept of Health, Town Center 2, 111 Israel Rd. SE, Room 153, Tumwater, WA 98501

Agenda (PDF)

Agenda Highlights:
Health Equity CE Presentation – Idabelle Fosse, DOH Equity and Social Justice 

Strategist Ms. Fosse will give a presentation on the work that was done to establish the  model rules for health equity continuing education.

Health Equity in the Classroom – Shari Aldrich, LMT, Ms. Aldrich will give a presentation on incorporating health equity in a massage  program.

Education and Training Committee Report and Rules Workshop – Sherise Gueck, LMT, Chimere Figaire-Correa, LMT, and Megan Maxey

Public Comment: Members of the public will be given the opportunity to address the board on this agenda item. There will be 15 minutes allotted for public comment.

Rules workshop on WAC 246-830-430, Education and training.

License by Endorsement Rules Workshop – Heidi Williams, LMT

Public Comment: Members of the public will be given the opportunity to address the board on this agenda item. There will be 15 minutes allotted for public comment.

Department of Health (DOH)

In September, DOH had their second 2024 Legislative Session Preview on Agency Request Legislation and Budget. The projects below will be submitted for inclusion in the Governor’s budget…but there is no guarantee that they will make it into the Governor’s budget, which will be released around December 19th. The health care lobbyists in attendance have also requested an update on the HELMS project. Here are the requests that could impact Massage Therapists:

HELMS Project Continuation ($ to be determined) 

DOH is requesting additional one-time spending authority to extend the Health Care Enforcement and Licensing Management System (HELMS) project by four months for work that is necessary for completion. Without additional spending authority, DOH will be forced to stop the project or significantly reduce the project scope. Stopping the project at this stage would result in a loss of $21.3 million in investment in the project and require licensees and facilities to pay for those costs without any return. HELMS will provide the licensure for all home care aides, certified nursing assistants and all professions at DOH!

Decreasing Health Care Provider Credentialing Timelines ($ to be determined)

DOH is requesting funding to implement improvements in the health care provider credentialing process. Credentialing timelines for health care providers have increased and customers are experiencing delays in obtaining their credential to practice, potentially exacerbating an already critical health care workforce shortage. In spring 2023, the DOH hired a contractor and engaged the public in listening sessions to better understand the reasons for the delays and to develop recommendations for improvement and will implement the recommendations made by the contractor, the public, as well as recommendations from the Governor’s Results Washington office.

2024 Bills Potentially Still under Consideration from 2023 Session 

HB 1655 AN ACT Relating to provider contract compensation: AMTA-WA supported this bill during the 2023 legislative session. This bill related to provider contracting and fee schedules will be coming back in the 2024 session. It would require insurers to give providers who are not attached to a hospital, or hospital affiliate, fee schedule increases related to the Consumer Price Index. 

The bill had a hearing in the House last session with more than 300 supporters signing in, and gained interest as session went on. There is work going on with Sen. Cleveland for a Senate companion bill to see who/what she is thinking about sponsors as well as moving the bill. In the House Harris and Stonier said that they will help us move the bill. Lori Grassi of the Chiropractic Association has been the lead with legislators on this issue.  I assume we are interested in working on this bill, and upon your approval I will confirm our advocacy efforts around this bill coalition!

HB 1437 – 2023-24 Concerning the interstate massage compact

Sponsors: KlobaYbarraLeavittMcEntireReevesJacobsenRyuCaldierMacriReed

The Interstate Massage Compact (Compact) is an agreement between states that allows the

interstate practice of massage therapy. As of January 1, 2023, no states have enacted the Compact.

Multistate License Qualifications: To be eligible for a multistate license under the Compact, an applicant must:

 • hold an active single-state license to practice massage therapy in the applicant’s home state;

• have completed at least 625 clock hours of massage therapy education or the equivalent;

• pass a national licensing examination or the equivalent;

• submit to a background check;

• have not been found guilty of a felony within five years prior to the application;

• have not been found guilty of a misdemeanor within two years prior to the application

• have not been found guilty at any time of kidnapping, human trafficking, human

smuggling, sexual battery, sexual assault, or other category of offense specified by the Commission;

• have not had a massage therapy license revoked or surrendered in lieu of discipline;

• have no history of any adverse action within two years prior to the application; and

• pay required fees.

Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Revising the prior authorization process rulemaking: Revising the prior authorization process Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1357 (2023) revises timelines for health plans processing of prior authorization requests related to decisions, electronic authorization standards, and communication requirements. Proposed rulemaking intends to address inconsistencies between the new law and current rule, such as WAC 284-43-2000 (Health care services utilization review), 284-43-2020 (Drug utilization review), and 284-43-2050 (Prior authorization processes). The following comments were submitted on the CR-101 (PDF, 93.39 KB). The next stakeholder meeting has not been set yet. Please let me know if you would like to submit comments on Prior Authorization.

General Information Regarding Massage Therapy Regulation in Washington State

Massage Therapist Website at DOH: Massage Therapist | Washington State Department of Health

To get notifications directly from DOH regarding Massage Therapists or the Board of Massage, sign up at:

Also check out HEAL-WA which provides Massage Therapists with evidence-based data and articles that you pay a $16 fee in your license renewal to access the University of Washington HEAL-WA health resources website.

The RCW and WAC that directly relate to Massage Therapists: