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  • 18 Aug 2020 4:43 PM | Carl Wilson (Administrator)

    You may have received a notice from a DOH listserve about this Bill, if you are signed-up for certain listservs with the DOH. WSMTA has become aware that some massage therapists are confused about what/if this means for massage. I hope this helps.

    Interpretation of ESHB 1608 for Massage Therapists: An Act relating to protecting patient care…

    The primary intent of this Bill is aimed at healthcare providers that have the ability, in their scope of practice, to provide differential diagnosis. It is primarily about their “right” to counsel and provide information about the full array of treatment alternatives that are available in the community, without the risk of being fired or losing privileges. For example, a provider working at a Catholic Hospital who is afraid they could lose their privileges if they counsel a patient on the Death with Dignity Act, abortion, or birth control. The full text of the Bill can be found here, http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/1608-S.PL.pdf?q=20200813114524

    What does this Bill mean for LMTs? Let us take the language of this bill and really break it down. How do we as licensed healthcare providers in WA  practice according to the letter of the law and in our patients/clients’ best interest. 

    As healthcare providers we have the right and responsibility to provide accurate information to our patients/clients. This bill is spelling out that we MUST present information in a way that…

    1. Is with-in our scope of practice, education, training, and experience.

    2. With-in the accepted standard of care.

    3. Medically accurate

    So, let’s look at the definitions that are in WA state statute.

    "Health care provider" means a person who is licensed, certified, registered, or otherwise authorized by the law of this state to provide health care in the ordinary course of business or practice of a profession. RCW 70.02.010   

    "Massage" and "massage therapy" mean a health care service involving the external manipulation or pressure of soft tissue for therapeutic purposes. Massage therapy includes techniques such as tapping, compressions, friction, reflexology, Swedish gymnastics or movements, gliding, kneading, shaking, and fascial or connective tissue stretching, with or without the aids of superficial heat, cold, water, lubricants, or salts. Massage therapy does not include diagnosis or attempts to adjust or manipulate any articulations of the body or spine or mobilization of these articulations by the use of a thrusting force, nor does it include genital manipulation.

    “Medically accurate” means information that is verified or supported by research in compliance with scientific methods, published in peer-review journals, recognized as accurate and objective by professional organizations.

    We know this Bill applies to us, as we meet the definition of healthcare provider. If we are going to provide information to, or counsel our patients/clients, we need to make sure that information and counsel stays within scope and is medically accurate. Our scope of practice is limited to external manipulation or pressure of soft tissues for therapeutic purposes and within that limit we need to make sure we focus on passing along information that is supported by research and recognized as accurate. 

    This Bill does not speak to this but, remember, you can always suggest that your patient go back to their physician, get a second opinion or try another provider type if they are not making progress.

    I hope this helps to clear up any questions that you might have had about this new statute. If you have further questions about your scope of practice limitations, please contact Megan Maxey, Program Manager for Board of Massage at Megan.Maxey@doh.wa.gov.

    Marybeth Berney

    WSMTA President



  • 11 Mar 2020 7:55 PM | Government Relations (Administrator)

    The regular session of the 2020 Washington State Legislature officially ended on March 12. With our state being hit hard by Covid-19, I would not be surprised to see the Governor call a special session at some point. If a special session is called, it will not affect the bills that WSMTA has been following this session. Here is an update on those bills.

    SSB 5097: This bill passed both the House and the Senate and is awaiting the Governors signature. This bill will amend RCW 18.108.045. It will require all licensed massage therapists and certified reflexologist to have available for inspection some form of government issued photo identification. The name on the identification must match the name on the massage license or reflexology certificate. The exact language is below.

    A massage therapist licensed under this chapter or a reflexologist certified under this chapter must have government issued photo identification on his or her person or have it be available for inspection by city, county, or state law enforcement or department personnel at all times he or she practices massage therapy or reflexology. The name of the massage therapist or reflexologist on the government-issued photo identification must match the name on the massage therapy license or reflexology certification.

    HB 1082: This was a companion bill to SSB 5097. The language was essentially the same as SSB 5097. So, when SSB 5097 passed the House and Senate, HB 1082 no longer needs to continue its journey.

    HB 2294: This was a bill that would have expanded the definition of who is covered by RCW 9A.36.031 to include all healthcare providers. Previously, only doctors and nurses in a hospital setting were covered healthcare providers in this RCW. This bill died in the House Public Safety Committee. The Committee members were very reluctant to expand the definition of this RCW to include more special groups. The exact language is below.

    A person is guilty of assault in the third degree (a class C felony, instead of simple assault which is a gross misdemeanor) if he or she, under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first or second degree: (i) Assaults a healthcare provider regulated under Title 18 RCW who was performing health care duties at the time of the assault.

  • 21 Aug 2019 10:00 AM | Government Relations (Administrator)

    Congratulations to everyone!  WSMTA attended the August 21, 2019 City of Bremerton Council meeting and the City Council passed the Bremerton City Ordinance 5373 -- Chapter 5.14 Massage and Reflexology Businesses ordinance without any changes.  Click here for the final language of the ordinance.

    WSMTA thanks the City of Bremerton City Council, Chief of Police and City Attorney for all of their work.  WSMTA would also like to especially acknowledge the efforts of the Chief of Police in helping develop the current City of Bremerton Chapter 5.14 Massage and Reflexology Businesses ordinance language and getting it into the City Council's system so quickly.  He also really went out of his way to meet and talk with some of the members of the local Bremerton massage therapy community who had expressed concerns, he kept them informed of what was happening with the ordinance and listened to their input.

  • 14 Aug 2019 10:00 AM | Government Relations (Administrator)

    Monday Morning, August 5, 2019 the Bremerton Chief of Police contacted WSMTA about its proposal.  After a discussion, by the afternoon of that same day, the Chief of Police had drafted new ordinance language based on our proposal.  At that point, we involved the AMTA-WA in the discussion and notified the Washington Reflexology Association about the discussion and kept them informed throughout the process.  During that week we (Chief of Police, WSMTA and AMTA-WA) massaged the language (pun intended) of the revised massage and reflexology business ordinance.  

    Even though the original proposed massage ordinance had been withdrawn from the August 7 City of Bremerton City Council Agenda, WSMTA attended and thanked the Council for listening to the massage profession and allowing the original language to be pulled.  We also thanked the Chief of Police for his efforts in putting the new proposed ordinance language together.  There were also 5 or 6 other local massage therapists who attended as well.

    By August 13, 2019 the final draft of the revised ordinance had been completed by the Bremerton City Attorney -- the language was approved by all of the involved parties.  The Chief of Police was able to get the revised ordinance accepted to the City of Bremerton City Council agenda at their August 14, 2019 study session.  WSMTA attended the meeting along with two local massage therapists.  The City Council members were very amenable to the new revised ordinance language and accepted the ordinance on to the agenda without any changes to it.

  • 4 Aug 2019 10:00 AM | Government Relations (Administrator)

    WSMTA has emailed its proposal to the City of Bremerton City Council, City Attorney, Mayor and Chief of Police on Sunday August 4th.  To read WSMTA's proposal, click here.  

    Last week we did a lot of research.  During the January 2019 WA State Board of Massage meeting, an assistant city attorney and a detective from the City of Kent had been invited to present to the Board of Massage what they did in November 2018 to shut down 18 suspected prostitution and human trafficking entities posing as massage clinics in their city and how they have continued to keep them out.  Fortunately, one of our members had been present at this Board of Massage meeting to hear their full presentation.   What Kent did and how it used it's ordinances became part of the basis for our proposal.  We contacted the City of Kent assistant city attorney who had presented to get more details and then contacted our advisor on prostitution and human trafficking, Lavon Watson, for information on other municipalities which had been successful at keeping out illegal massage businesses within their city limits.  We also researched a lot of municipal ordinances in western Washington.

    As a result of our research, we decided to use the City of Bellevue ordinances as the model.  Boiling down the language, the ordinance is simple:  only licensed massage therapists can do massage in city limits and if the persons doing massage are not licensed massage therapists then that is a misdemeanor offence.  Business owners who employee non-licensed massage therapists also receive a misdemeanor and business licenses can then be revoked because of the misdemeanor.  We provided other supporting state regulations along with steps that the City of Kent had done to enforce its regulations and to work with the business community after these illegal businesses were shut down.

  • 29 Jul 2019 10:00 AM | Government Relations (Administrator)

    Close to midnight on Friday July 26, WSMTA received notification from one of its members about the August 7 City of Bremerton City Council Meeting and the massage ordinance language that had been proposed (Bremerton City Ordinance 5373 -- Chapter 5.14 Massage Businesses).  The ordinance language is the City of Bremerton's attempt to have regulations by which they could limit and shut down prostitution and human traffic entities that were posing as massage clinics.  In trying to manage this, the language is very restrictive and punitive on law-abiding massage therapists and creates an unsafe working environment for them.  For a copy of the proposed ordinance click here.  

    Over the weekend, WSMTA strategized how we should approach this ordinance:  should we spend our efforts opposing it or should we spend our efforts in trying to research what works for other municipalities and propose that information to City of Bremerton City Council?

    Since social media outlets started to talk about the proposed City of Bremerton ordinance on Massage Businesses on Saturday July 27th, WSMTA assumed that there would be plenty of feedback to the City of Bremerton about what was wrong with the ordinance by individual massage therapists and by organizations, so WSMTA has decided to research what other municipalities have done to keep organized prostitution and human trafficking entities which are posing as massage clinics out of their city limits and what their city ordinances are that support there ability to do so.


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