December 2021 AMTA-WA Government Relations Update
By Diana Thompson, LMT, and Susan Sherman, LMT, Co-Chairs
The following is a summary of our work on behalf of AMTA-WA over the past several months to include recent updates concerning continuing education, Labor & Industries payment and prior authorization requirements for massage, and the upcoming legislative session.
Continuing Education (CE). Since almost the beginning of the pandemic, the Board of Massage (Board) has waived the requirement that LMTs receive eight hours of in-person CE. The current waiver of this in-person requirement has been extended to June 30, 2022, or until the declared state of emergency is rescinded, whichever is later. Note that the total number of required CE hours remains the same at 24.
If you’re uncertain where to find good quality CE on a wide variety of topics, please remember to check the AMTA website for course offerings on a wide variety of topics for members as well as non-members. Many are free, and for those that are not, members receive a sizable discount.
Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). L&I has clarified prior authorization requirements for massage therapy that are effective January 1, 2022. For details, see L&I’s massage therapy update.
Board of Massage meetings. LMTs in Washington State are very lucky to have a dedicated Board of Massage and Department of Health (DOH) staff. There are four LMTs on the Board, along with DOH staff, who have worked extremely hard over the past several months to approve all the forms submitted to assure that massage schools were meeting the new 625 hour requirement as of September 1. The following are the Board of Massage members: Heidi Williams, LMT, Chair; Autumn Christina Straker, LMT, Vice-Chair; John Cassinerio, LMT; and Chimere Figaire-Correa, LMT. If you know them, please say “thank you!”
And a shout out also to Megan Maxey, Program Manager, and Renee Fullerton, Executive Director. We are so lucky in this state to have a great team!
The Board has held several recent meetings where the focus has been on whether there is a way to create a more streamlined licensure pathway for Washington residents who attend massage schools located in border states. This issue arose because an out of state massage school located in Idaho was no longer able to apply for Board approval. As a result, its graduates had to apply first for licensure in Idaho, or sign up for a transfer program because the Board requires graduation from a Board approved school. The only exceptions are for individuals who have been credentialed in another state first.
AMTA-WA was instrumental in writing memos to explain that the statutes governing the work of the Board required that it allow any out-of-state massage school to apply for Board approval. As a result, the Board did not have the authority to adopt a rule or policy that would conflict with the statute. That solved this problem.
Future discussions will focus on whether the Board should support amending its statutes to allow for reciprocity from those states that have substantially equivalent standards. Other issues may include how to help LMTs partners of active military stationed in Washington State become credentialed.
Finally, at its upcoming meeting on January 14, the Board will focus on receiving an update from DOH on CE for health equity—a requirement that will become effective on January 1, 2024. While CE for health equity will be required every four years, the Board will determine how many hours to require, and whether those hours will be part of the current 24 hours. The Department of Health (DOH) is working in concert with boards and commissions to develop model rules.
If you would like to track the work of the Board, this link takes you to their web page. At the bottom right see “subscribe.”
Board of Massage needs a public member. The Board has a long-standing vacancy for a public member. If you know of someone who may be interested, here’s a link to the information.
AMTA and eviCore. For those of you who bill insurers, you’re probably familiar with eviCore. Recently, eviCore reached out to AMTA with the goal of developing a collaborative relationship focused on issues such as online system usability, as well as questions pertaining to clinical guidelines and prior authorization requirements. AMTA, in turn, reached out to our Washington Chapter as Washington State is one of the leaders in recognizing massage therapists as health care providers. AMTA-WA President David Phillips, LMT, will be joining both of us, working together with AMTA staff, as part of a workgroup.
2022 Legislative Session. The 2022 legislative session begins this year on Monday, January 10, and lasts for 60 days. It’s a short session this year, with a focus on any “clean-up” needed from 2021 legislation and the passage of the biennial budget. But, given that we’re going into our third year of the pandemic, issues related to the pandemic, remain front and center.
We will be tracking the work of the Legislature, together with AMTA-WA Lobbyist Gail McGaffick. We will be providing updates on key bills, as needed, to include opportunities for AMTA-WA members to communicate with legislators.
Happy Holidays! As we close out this GR update, we send warm and heartfelt wishes to you and yours for a joyous and safe holiday season. We are grateful for your membership in AMTA that allows us to do our work on your behalf.