By Karen Montanez, Minnesota School of Business-Lakeville, Massage Therapy Program Chair
Jeremy Miller, government relations committee chair for the Minnesota Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association, spoke to students attending massage therapy school at Minnesota School of Business-Lakeville about the current regulation of massage therapy in Minnesota and the legislative efforts to pass a massage therapy credentialing bill.
The state of Minnesota does not have any statewide registration or licensing requirements for massage therapists. We are one of only seven states that do not. The massage therapy profession is the only health care practice currently regulated solely at the city level in Minnesota. This has resulted in a patchwork of individual city ordinances, which makes it very difficult for legitimate massage therapists to work legally.
If a massage therapist practices in multiple locations, they have to pay for multiple licenses. Some cities have adopted very restrictive massage ordinances, with very high licensing fees and many restrictions on when and where and how therapists may practice. Other cities have no massage licensing ordinances, or very weak ordinances, which means that in those cities unqualified therapists may set up practice and potentially cause harm to the public, or worse yet, human trafficking and prostitution may operate under the guise of massage therapy.
A statewide law to license or register massage therapists and require appropriate training, background checks, and ongoing oversight is badly needed, both to protect the public and to improve the perception of the massage therapy profession in Minnesota.
To remedy this, the ALMTMN was formed five years ago by the Minnesota Chapter of the AMTA and has been advocating for a state wide licensing law for massage therapists. Efforts to pass similar legislation date back more than twenty years.
The currently proposed legislation would create a voluntary credential, the RMBT, Registered Massage and Bodywork Therapist. This credential would supersede the individual city licenses for massage therapists in the state of Minnesota, although business licenses may still be required in some cities, and zoning ordinances which in some cases limit where a massage business can be located, would be unchanged.
To qualify at a general entry level for the RMBT registration, a massage therapist would have to be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, have current First Aid and CPR certification, carry professional liability insurance, and pass a relevant criminal history background check. In addition, after the law is enacted, massage therapists will need to have completed 500 hours or more of training from an accredited school, and have passed an approved certification exam such as the NCBTMB or the MBLEX in order to get the RMBT credential.
There will be a one-time grandfathering clause for massage therapists who are in practice prior final enactment date of the law. These therapists will qualify for the RBMT credential as long as they meet the general entry level qualifications (passing the background check, over age 18, etc.) AND have either 500 hours of training, OR have passed an approved exam, OR been a member of the ABMP or AMTA for two years, OR have 2 years of work experience.
This legislation will be presented to the 2013 Minnesota Legislature in February. If is passed, it would likely be signed into law and go into effect in July 2013, and be fully implemented by the fall of 2014. After this date, the RMBT title would be protected and could only be used by therapists who have chosen the voluntary registration. The Minnesota Chapter of the AMTA is planning to do extensive public education, to let the public know what the RMBT title means, and to help them understand why they should look for a therapist who has this credential.
Help is needed to ensure the passage of this important legislation. To help, visit the ALMT website and register as a supporter of the ALMT. You will be notified of the progress of the bill, so that you can call your state representative and state senator in Saint Paul at the appropriate time and let them know you support the passage of the bill. There are also other opportunities to help, listed on the ALMT website, including opportunities to assist in other projects relating to this topic, and to be in attendance at upcoming hearings and legislative visits.