AMTA-WA September 2023 Public Policy Report

Prepared by Leslie Emerick, AMTA-WA Lobbyist  

Legislative/Political Landscape 

As the summer winds down, the drumbeat for the next legislative session starts to grow louder! I have been getting calls from the political party campaign committees for donations to help get them started for the 2024 campaign season. The Governor’s race, Public Lands Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner, and the Attorney General all have races for new leadership in 2024. All House members will be up for election and half of the Senate.

There have already been some changes in the legislature! Senator Christine Rolfes, the powerful Chair of Ways and Means, was appointed as a Kitsap County Commissioner. She will be replaced by Democratic Rep. Drew Hansen of Bainbridge Island, who has been appointed to the state Senate in her place.

I attended the Double Cup Golf Tournament with lady legislators and lobbyists in mid-August. It’s a great relationship building event and lots of fun getting to know legislators and other lobbyist in a much less formal setting! Senator Kuderer was my golfing partner. She is running for the position of the Insurance Commissioner in 2024.

State agencies are hard at work implementing legislation from the 2023 session and are preparing their Agency Request Legislation and Budget Requests for the 2024 session. What is Rule Making? | Washington State Department of Health

Board of Massage (BOM)

Board of Massage Meeting Sept. 22, 2023: The business meeting being held via Zoom at 9:00 a.m. or in-person at DOH, Town Center 2 – Room 153, 111 Israel Rd. S.E., Tumwater, WA 98501. Click on the blue Register button below to register to attend via Zoom webinar. A link is also available on the meeting agenda. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the webinar. 

The agenda and meeting packet will also be available on the Massage Therapy webpage under the Board Meetings tab. The Board will review:

  • License by Endorsement Committee Report and have a Rules Workshop – Sherise Gueck, LMT, Heidi Williams, LMT, and Megan Maxey. Please submit any needed comments. 
  • Education and Training Committee Report and Rules Workshop – Sherise Gueck, LMT, Chimere Figaire-Correa, LMT, and Megan Maxey

Board of Massage Education and Training Committee August 22, 2023:  Discussion for rulemaking on WAC 246-830-430 Education and training. Committee members will discuss recommendations to bring back to the board for initial licensure on the following:

  • Identify what topics should be considered for inclusion in initial education and training requirements, including, but not limited to:
    • Mental health care and mood disorders in ethics and pathology study.
    • Black, indigenous, and people of color inclusion and diversity in case studies (massage theory) as well as pathology.
    • LGBTQ+ inclusion in ethics.
  • Identify if these topics should this be included in the existing education and training hours for initial licensure or in addition to the existing education and training hours for initial licensure.

Board of Massage Licensure by Endorsement Committee Meeting: August 10, 2023 there was a Rules Discussion for WAC 246-830-035 Licensing by endorsement for out-of-state applicants. Committee members discussed statistics provided by program staff. 

The board was briefed on the implementation of 2SHB 1724.  It was passed this past legislative session. The rulemaking for this bill has not started yet. The bill makes several changes that apply to all professions including: 

  • Requiring disciplining authorities to waive education, training, experience, and exam requirements for applicants credentialed in another state with substantially equivalent standards. It also allows waiving requirements for applicants who have achieved national certification. 
  • Removing DOH’s authority to screen applicants before scheduling them for exams. 
  • Granting the department authority to contract with third parties to review applications. 

For future agenda items, Annika requested to create a streamlined process for the school reviews.  Once the new board members have a couple more school reviews under their belt, I’ll include it on the agenda, probably for next January.  

  • Lots of discussion about what should be included in your training, including possibly expanding the number of hours required for licensure. Nothing was settled at the meeting…mainly brainstorming the different possibilities.

Department of Health (DOH)

On August 28th, DOH had their 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. Here are the requests that impact Acupuncture and Eastern Medicine Providers: 

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.

Bill History 2023 Session

  • Jan 18 First reading, referred to Postsecondary Education & Workforce. 
  • Jan 25 Public hearing in the House Committee on Postsecondary Education & Workforce  
  • Jan 31 Executive session scheduled, but no action was taken in the House Committee on Postsecondary Education & Workforce 

ATMA-WA Successful in Health Equity Continuing Education Rulemaking: The BOM proposed health equity continuing education requirements in their CR 102 added 4 hours of health equity education to be completed as part of the current continuing education requirements every 2 years. The proposed rule does not change total CE hours and is absorbed into the existing number of CE hours required. CR-102 and proposed language. Summer requested a list of the other professions number of hours for Health Equity CEs and this is what we received from DOH staff:

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: