Government Relations

Vermont is one of a handful of states that do not currently have massage therapy regulations.  The AMTA-VT Chapter has been developing relationshimassage-therapy-licenseps with schools, medical professionals and massage therapists to broaden the understanding of massage therapy licensure. The Chapter is continually accessing public opinion, collaborating with therapists, and listening to members and non-members about ideas for pursuing legislation.

If you would like to get involved please contact: governmentrelations@amta-vermont.org

 

 

Draft Vermont Massage Practice Act 2015

Vermont Massage Therapy State Licensing Act 2015 Draft

Table of Contents:

  • 100. Short title.
  • 101. Definitions.
  • 102. Prohibitions, offenses
  • 103. Exemptions
  • 104. Construction
  • 105. Director of Office of Public Regulations; duties.
  • 106. Advisor Appointees.
  • 107. Eligibility.
  • 108. Grandfathering.
  • 109. Application.
  • 110. Examination.
  • 111. Licensure by endorsement.
  • 112. Renewal.
  • 113. Reinstatement.
  • 114. Unprofessional conduct.
  • 115. Interaction with local Government.

AN ACT

To amend the Official Code of Vermont Annotated, relating to regulation of professions and businesses, so as to regulate the practice of massage therapy; to provide a short title; to provide for certain definitions; to prohibit the unauthorized practice of massage therapy; to provide for exemptions to provide for construction of other regulated professions; to provide for duties for the director of the Office of Professional Regulations; to provide for duties of advisor appointees; to provide for licensure of massage therapists; to provide for grandfathering of currently practicing massage therapists; to provide for applications under oath; to provide for licensing examinations; to provide for licensing by endorsement; to provide for renewal and reinstatement of license; to provide for disciplinary actions; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF VERMONT:

PART 1.

The Official Code of Vermont Annotated, relating to regulation of professions and businesses, is amended as follows:

  • 100. Short title.

This Act shall be known and may be cited as the ‘Vermont Massage Therapy Practice Act.’

  • 101. Definitions.

As used in this Act, the term:

  • ‘Applicant’ means any person seeking a license under this Act.

(2)‘Approved massage school’ means a massage therapy educational program which meets the standards for training and curriculum as set forth by the Office of Professional Regulations, institution of higher or post-secondary education, or comparable authority or department in another state including

(i) A public or private community college, college, or university, or

(ii) A public or private trade, vocational, or occupational school.

  • ‘Compensation’ means the payment, loan, advance, donation, contribution, deposit or gift of money or anything of monetary value.
  • “Director” means the director of the Office of Professional Regulation.
  • “Disciplinary action” means any action taken by an administrative law officer established in 3 V.S.A. § 129(j) against a licensee or applicant on a finding of unprofessional conduct by the licensee or applicant. “Disciplinary action” includes issuance of warnings and all sanctions including denial, suspension, revocation, limitation or restriction of licenses and other similar limitations.
  • ‘License’ means a valid and current certificate issued by the Office of Public Regulation permitting the practice of massage by a qualified person.
  • “Massage therapy” “Massage” or “massage therapy” means a system of structured touch, palpation, or movement of the soft tissue of another person’s body in order to enhance or restore the general health and well-being of the recipient. Such system includes, but is not limited to, techniques such as effleurage, commonly called stroking or gliding; petrissage, commonly called kneading; tapotement or percussion; friction; vibration; compression; passive and active stretching within the normal anatomical range of movement; hydromassage; and thermal massage. Such techniques may be applied with or without the aid of lubricants, salt or herbal preparations, water, heat, or a massage device that mimics or enhances the actions possible by human hands. “Massage” or “massage therapy” does not include diagnosis of injury or impairment, therapeutic exercise or grade 5/grade V joint manipulation.

(7)   “Massage therapy services: may include, but are not limited to:

(a) Development, implementation and modification of a massage therapy treatment plan that addresses client soft tissue manifestations, needs and concerns, including identifying indications, contraindications and precautions of massage therapy within the scope of the act;

(b) Obtaining informed consent regarding the risks and benefits of the massage therapy treatment plan and application and modification of the massage therapy treatment plan as needed;

(c) Using effective interpersonal communication in the professional relationship;

(d) Utilizing an ethical decision-making process that conforms to the ethical standards of the profession, as set forth in this act and in rules and regulations;

(e) Establishing and maintaining a practice environment that provides for the client’s health, safety and comfort;

(f) Establishing and maintaining client records, professional records and business records in compliance with standards of professional conduct as required by rules and regulations.

(8)     ‘Massage therapist’ means an individual licensed by this state to engage in the practice of massage therapy.

(9)‘Professional massage and bodywork therapy association’ means a state or nationally chartered professional membership organization offering services to massage therapists that has been in existence for at least 36 months prior to the effective date of this Act, that currently has at least 500 members in good standing, and whose membership requirements include the following:

  • The organization requires that its members meet minimum eligibility criteria, which include massage or bodywork education completion standards. Required education must include the subject areas of anatomy, physiology, hygiene, sanitation, ethics, and application of techniques; and
  • The organization has an established code of ethics, standards of practice and requires members to agree to that code, standards and has disciplinary procedures for the membership suspension and revocation of members violating the code of ethics.
  • 102. Prohibition; offenses
  • No person shall:
  • Practice or attempt to practice Massage therapy or hold himself or herself out as being able to do so in this state without first having obtained a license; or
  • Use in connection with the person’s name or business the words ‘massage,’ ‘massage therapy,’ ‘massage therapist,’ ‘massage practitioner,’ ‘medical massage therapist,’ ‘masseur,’ ‘masseuse,’ ‘certified massage therapist,’ manual massage therapist,’ any coupling of one of those terms with the words ‘licensed’ or registered,’ or the letters ‘M.T.,’ ‘L.M.T.,’ or any other words, letters, abbreviations, or insignia indicating or implying directly or indirectly that massage therapy is provided or supplied unless such massage therapy is provided by a massage therapist licensed and practicing in accordance with this Act.
  • Practice or attempt to practice massage therapy during license revocation or suspension.
  • A person violating any of the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be subject to the penalties provided in subsection 127(c) of Title 3.
  • A licensed massage therapist shall use the letters “LMT” in connection with the massage therapist’s name or place of business to denote licensure and shall display his or her license in a prominent area of their place of business for the public to review.
  • 103. Exemptions. Nothing in this article prohibits or requires a massage therapy license for any of the following:
  • Students enrolled in an approved massage school, while completing a clinical requirement or supervised fieldwork experience for graduation performed under the supervision of a massage therapist or other licensed health professional with subject matter relative to massage therapy, provided the student does not hold himself or herself out as a licensed massage therapist;
  • Massage therapists employed in the United States Armed Services, United States Public Health Service, Veterans Administration, or other federal agency;
  • Any persons performing massage therapy services in the state, if those services are performed for no more than 45 days in a calendar year, and for no more than 30 days within any 60-consecutive-day period, the person is not a resident of Vermont, is duly licensed, registered or certified by another state or political jurisdiction, and if one of the following conditions is satisfied:
  • The person is incidentally in this state to provide service as part of an emergency response team working in conjunction with disaster relief officials;
  • The person travels with and provides massage therapy exclusively to members of an athletic team, dance troupe, or other performing artists while such groups or persons are temporarily in the state;
  • The person is part of an organized team of massage therapists providing massage services without compensation at a public event such as the Olympic Games, Special Olympics, a marathon or triathlon, provided that these services are performed only during a period from 48 hours prior to the commencement of the event until 24 hours after the completion of the event;
  • The person is participating as a student in or instructor of an educational program in this state for a period not exceeding 30 days.
  • Persons providing massage services in the State under this exemption are subject to the disciplinary and regulatory authority of the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation, and must comply with the all of the provisions of the Vermont massage therapy practice act.
  • Persons giving massage to members of his or her immediate or extended family;
  • Persons providing alternative methods that employ contact or touch and do not hold himself or herself out as a massage therapist. For the purposes of this paragraph (5), “alternative methods that employ contact” include, but are not limited to:

(I) Practices in which only the soft tissue of a person’s hands, feet, or ears are manipulated, such as reflexology;

(II) Practices using touch, words, and directed movements to deepen a person’s awareness of movement patterns in his or her body, such as the Feldenkrais method, the Trager approach, and body-mind centering;

(III) Practices using touch to affect the human energy systems, such as reiki, shiatsu, touch for health kinesiology, and Asian or polarity bodywork therapy;

(IV) Structural integration practices such as Rolfing and Hellerwork; and

(V) The process of muscle activation techniques.

(VI) Massage therapists licensed under this Act may provide services classified as exempt practices listed under paragraph (5) if they have received training in such services.

  • 104. Construction

This chapter shall not be construed to limit or restrict in any manner the right of a practitioner of another occupation, which is regulated by this state from carrying on in the usual manner any of the functions of his or her profession. 

  • 105. Director of Office of Professional Regulations; duties.
  • The director shall
    1. Provide general information to applicants for licensure as massage therapists.
    2. Explain appeal procedures to licensed massage therapists and applicants, and complaint procedures to the public.
    3. Administer fees as established by law.
    4. Receive applications for licensure, administer examinations, provide licenses to applicants qualified under this chapter, renew, revoke, and reinstate licenses as ordered by an administrative law officer.
    5. Refer all disciplinary matters to an administrative law officer. 

(b) The director, with the advice of the advisor appointees, shall adopt rules necessary to perform the director’s duties under this section.

  • 106. Advisor appointees
  • The secretary of state shall appoint two massage therapists to serve as advisors in matters relating to massage therapy. The advisors shall be appointed as set forth in section 129b of Title 3 and serve at the pleasure of the secretary. One of the initial appointments may be for less than a four-year term. Appointees shall have at least three years’ experience as a massage therapist immediately preceding appointment and shall be actively engaged in the practice of massage therapy in this state during incumbency.
  • The director shall seek the advice of the Massage therapy advisors in carrying out provisions of this chapter. They shall be entitled to compensation and necessary expenses in the amount provided in 32 V.S.A. § 1010 for attendance at any meeting called by the director for that purpose.
  • 107. Eligibility

Commencing two years after the date statute is signed into law by Governor, no person may practice massage therapy in this state who is not a licensed massage therapist issued by the director to this Act.

To be eligible for licensure as a massage therapist, an applicant shall be at least 18 years of age and shall furnish satisfactory proof that he or she has:

  • completed a massage educational program consisting of a minimum of 500 hours from an approved massage school as defined in section 101 of this Act;
  • passed a national massage therapy competency assessment examination that meets generally accepted psychometric principles and standards, and that has been approved by the Director. The passage of this exam may have occurred prior to the effective date of this act.
  • The director shall have the authority to issue a license to an applicant who does not fully satisfy the eligibility criteria set forth in this Act but who, in the director’s judgment, has sufficient training and experience to be able to practice safely on members of the public.
  • 108. Grandfathering.

For a period of 2 years after applications for licensure become available, the director shall issue a license to an applicant who is at least 18 years of age, and meets one of the following requirements:

  • He or she completed a massage educational program consisting of a minimum of 500 hours from an approved massage school as defined in section 101 of this Act; or
  • He or she has completed at least 300 hours of formal training in massage therapy and has practiced massage in the last 2 years as determined by the Office of Professional Regulation; or
  • He or she has been an active member in good standing as a massage therapist for a period of at least twelve (12) months, of a national professional massage association/organization that offers professional liability insurance; or
  • He or she has successfully passed a licensing examination meeting the requirements of section 107(2) or examination approved by the Director. The passage of this examination may have occurred before the effective date of this section.
  • 109. Application.

According to the procedures outlined in the rules of the director of the Office of Professional Regulation, a person who desires to be licensed, as a Massage therapist shall apply to the director in writing on a form furnished by the director, accompanied by payment of the specified fee.

  • 110. Examination.

(a) The director of the office of professional regulation shall determine which national exams are acceptable to meet the requirements in Section 107(2).

(b) Examinations administered and procedures followed by the director shall be fair and reasonable and shall be designed and implemented to reasonably ensure that an applicant is at least minimally qualified to practice massage therapy. They shall not be designed or implemented for the purpose of limiting the number of licensees.

(c) An applicant for licensure as a massage therapist may take the examination before the application process has been completed and the application approved. The examination shall be a massage therapy competency assessment examination that meets generally accepted psychometric principles and standards, and that has been approved by the Director.

(d) An applicant for licensure who does not pass the examination on the first attempt may retake the examination.

(e) The director may require an examination designed to test the knowledge of the applicant regarding Vermont laws relating to massage therapy practice.

  • 111. Licensure by endorsement.
  1. A person who is licensed under the laws of another jurisdiction and who desires licensure as a massage therapist shall apply to the director of the office of professional regulation in writing on a form furnished by the director, accompanied by the specified fee. The director shall license those applicants if he or she deems that they have met requirements in the other jurisdiction, which are substantially equivalent to those of this state.
  2. The director may waive the examination requirement under Section 107(2) of this title if the applicant is a massage therapist regulated under the laws of another state who is in good standing to practice massage therapy in that state and, in the opinion of the director, the standards and qualifications required for regulation of massage therapists in that state are substantially equivalent to those required by this chapter.
  3. In all other cases, the director of the office of professional regulation may make such regulations as are reasonable and necessary for the protection of the public to assure that the applicant under this section is professionally qualified.
  • 112. Renewals

(a) Licenses shall be renewed every two (2) years upon payment of the required fee.

(b) Biennially, the director shall forward a renewal form to each license holder. Upon receipt of the completed form and the renewal fee, the director shall issue a new license.

  • Any application for renewal of a license, which has expired, shall be accompanied by the renewal fee and late fee. An applicant shall not be required to pay renewal fees for years during which the license was lapsed.
  • A license that has expired for three years or less shall be renewed upon meeting the renewal requirements and paying a late renewal penalty. A license that has expired for more than three years shall not be renewed; the applicant shall be required to apply for reinstatement. The director may adopt rules relating to reinstatement to assure that the applicant is professionally qualified.
  • 113. Reinstatement

If a massage therapist’s license has lapsed for more than three(3) consecutive years, that applicant may have his or her license reinstated upon payment of all applicable renewal and reinstatement fees, and demonstration of competence to practice the profession by one or more of the following, as determined by the director:

(1) Practice for a specified time under a limited or supervised license;

(2) Completion of a remedial course;

(3) Completion of continuing competence requirements;

(4) Passage of an examination approved by the director; or

(5) Practice with a license in good standing in another jurisdiction.

  • 114. Unprofessional conduct.
  • Unprofessional conduct is the conduct prohibited by this section and by section 129a of Title 3, whether or not taken by a license holder.
  • Unprofessional conduct shall include, but is not limited to:

(1) sexual harassment of a patient;

(2) engaging in a sexual act as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3251 with a patient;

(3) any of the following except when reasonably undertaken in an emergency situation in order to protect life, health, or property:

(A) practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope permitted by law;

(B) accepting and performing Massage therapy practices which the licensee knows or has reason to know that he or she is not competent to perform; or

(C) providing massage therapy practices which have not been authorized by the consumer or the consumer’s legal representative.

  • After hearing, an administrative law officer may take disciplinary action against a licensee or applicant found guilty of unprofessional conduct. A finding of unprofessional conduct shall be grounds for:

(1) denying an application for licensure;

(2) revoking, suspending, or conditioning a license; or

(3) otherwise disciplining a licensee.

  • 115. Interaction with local government regulations.

A city, county, or other political jurisdiction within the state may not enact an ordinance that regulates the practice of massage, as defined in this Act, by a person who is licensed under this Act. No provision of any ordinance enacted by a city, county, or other political jurisdiction that is in effect before the effective date of this Act, and that relates to the practice of massage, may be enforced against a person who is issued a license by the board under this Act.

 

PART 2.

This Act will become effective 120 days following the Governor’s signing it into law.

 

PART 3.

All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.

PART 4.

If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end, the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable.