MLN Vol.12.No.3

Massage Law Newsletter

Vol. 12, No. 3                                  ISSN 1073-5461                                      December 1999

PENNSYLVANIA DOES NOT NEED

SENATE BILL 1220 TO REGULATE MASSAGE THERAPISTS "TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC FROM HARM" BECAUSE THERE IS NO HARM

Albert Schatz and Mary Brewster

Those who have promoted state regulation of massage therapists in Pennsylvania have not provided any well-documented evidence that  regulation is needed to protect the public from harm or for any other reason. But there is more evidence that regulation is not needed.

SENATE BILL 1220 ADMITS IT IS NOT NEEDED TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC FROM HARM

But Senate Bill 1220 permits massage therapists (who do not meet the requirements of Senate Bill 1220, but who have been in active practice for two or more years immediately preceding the effective date of this act) to continue doing massage for a  period of two years.

During these two years,, they have to get additional training which complies with state requirements.

This is good evidence that those who wrote Senate Bill 1220 know the these allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists do not harm people. So,why is Senatee Bill1220 needed?

If those allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists did seriously injure  people, the injured people could file personal injury claims against both the inadequately trained  massage therapists who harmed them and against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which permitted the allegedly  inadequately trained massage therapists to do massage. 

Furthermore, some title protection bills and acts permit anybody to do massage, regardless of what training they have or do not have, provided only that they not use the term massage to describe what they do.

This is more good evidence that allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists do not harm people, and that state agencies which regulate massage therapists know that.

 THE PENNSYLVANIA SENATE COMMITTEE ON CONSUMER PROTECTION AND PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE

For  consumer protection, the regulatory requirements of professional licensure  are supposed to assure competence so that, ideally, licensed practitioners do not harm people.

The public needs to be protected from unlicensed practitioners only in those health care professions  in which inadequately trained practitioners have seriously harmed people.

But there's no well-documented evidence that massage therapists, regardless of their training, have seriously harmed people. So, the risk of being seriously harmed by massage therapists, regardless of their training, ranges from zero to negligible.

Consequently, there's no need to protect the public from harm which does not occur. And, there's no need to regulate massage therapists to protect the public from harm because unregulated massage therapists don't harm people.

SUNRISE LAWS

Several states have Sunrise Laws, but Pennsylvania unfortunately does not. Sunrise Laws require that those, who promote legislation to regulate massage therapists, must provide well-documented evidence that:

1. The unregulated profession is a serious danger to the public health and safety.

2. State regulation will adequately protect the public health and safety.

3. No other means will adequately protect the public health and safety.

If there's no well-documented evidence that allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists have caused significant serious harm, it is not possible to comply with the requirements of Sunrise Laws

If it is not possible to comply with the requirements of Sunrise Laws, there is no need for state regulation of massage therapists to protect the public from harm. This is why proponents of state regulation of massage therapists have never been able to diffuse the continuing controversy about the need for the regulation they promote

Georgia does NOT regulate massage

because there is  NO harm

Georgia has a Sunrise Law.  The Georgia Chapter of AMTA submitted undocumented evidence of harm to  support a senate bill to regulate massage therapists to allegedly protect the public from harm by allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists. A Georgia senate committee disregarded that undocumented evidence of harm, did its own research, and concluded:

"There is no documented danger of actual harm to the public." And, "The potential for harm to the public appears to be remote and would not be alleviated by licensing."

The  Canadian Province of Quebec

 does  NOT regulate massage therapists

because there is NO harm

In 1991-1992, a governmental agency in Quebec conducted an extensive two year research project to determine the incidence of harm associated with massage.

The results revealed that massage therapists, regardless of their training, had not harmed anybody. This is why massage therapists are not regulated in Quebec.

Because massage therapists do not harm people in Georgia and Quebec, there's no reason to assume that massage therapists harm people anywhere. There's also no need to regulate  massage therapists to protect the public from harm anywhere.

STATE REGULATION OF MASSAGE THERAPISTS IS NOT NEEDED

There's no need for state regulation unless those who promote it provide well-documented evidence that it is needed to protect the public health, safety, and welfare; or for whatever other reasons they allege it is needed. 

There's no need to protect the public from ephemeral soreness and discomfort which some people may temporarily experience after a massage. 

There's no need for regulation to protect people with contraindications from harm because there's no well-documented evidence that a sufficient number of people with contraindication have been seriously harmed.

There's no need for regulation to protect the public from something which is only potential harmful, but which rarely, if ever, actually occurs.

STATE REGULATION SHOULD

NOT ESTABLISH MONOPOLIES 

State licensure benefits those who want the state-sanctioned monopoly control, which licensure provides, because it is economically advantageous for them. 

State regulation of massage therapists does not protect the public safety, health, and welfare by establishing state-sanctioned monopolies that economically benefit special interest groups. Such monopolies are detrimental to the public. This is why some people oppose licensure:

I think the move toward licensure is regrettable. I believe licensing creates state-sanctioned monopolies ... with the explicit goal of  'protecting the public,' but with the real effect of protecting those who hold the monopolies' respective entitlements, reducing information to the public, and restricting competition. - Don Schwartz.

It seems that proponents of licensing are hopeful that a state license would mean more money, status, and power. - Jerry A. Green, Attorney  for the California Coalition on Somatic Practices.

When the right to practice a trade or profession depends not on personal initiative but also on the approval of some agency, ...the industry has laid the foundation for the exercise of monopoly power. No longer may anyone perform legal, medical accounting architectural  or other tasks. The first condition for a competitive society - freedom of entry - is gone. - J. K. Lieberman

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