Illinois Governor Quinn Signs Bill Re-authorizing the Regulation of Massage Therapists

MBLEx Now Accepted for Licensure

Governor Quinn signed SB 153 into law on August 23, 2011. The bill re-authorizes the Massage Therapy Practice Act until January 1, 2022 and makes several technical changes to the law.

One significant change to the law was to increase the minimum education requirement for new licensing applicants from 500 to 600 hours on January 1, 2014. Currently licensed massage therapists will not be affected by the change.

New applicants will also qualify for a license if they hold a current license from another state that includes the completion of a massage program of at least 500 hours.

You may recall that ABMP opposed an amendment to the bill supported by the Illinois Massage Licensing Board (MLB) and the American Massage Therapy Association, Illinois Chapter (Chapter) to increase the entry-level education requirement from 500 to 750 hours on January 1, 2016 for new licensing applicants.

We communicated our concern to the MLB and Chapter that there was no justification for the proposed increase in hours. When our concerns were dismissed, ABMP engaged professional representation at the legislature to fight for an important principle in massage regulation—consistency in entry-level requirements.

The necessity for state regulation has been based on public safety issues. It is ABMP’s belief that entry-level standards should not be increased without clear evidence indicating the existing qualifications for licensure are insufficient to protect the public. Changing state educational requirements will make portability—the ability to move from one state to another and obtain a license (an acknowledged goal among massage therapy organizations)—even more difficult. Increasing the required number of training hours also results in increased cost to attend school, but without any acknowledged increased return on investment.

The parties agreed to a compromise that resulted in the new 600-hour requirement; ABMP’s preference would have been to not change the requirement without any justification. However, as is common in these political situations, we had no choice but to reach some middle ground; the final compromise addresses the problems we hear the most about from members—in particular, the ability to obtain a license without having to return to school. We feel the increase to 600 hours was a fair trade for overall increased portability.

MBLEx Accepted

In other news, the MLB revised several rules which became effective on July 20, 2011.

  • Obsolete grandfather provisions have been repealed.
  • The Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (www.fsmtb.org) has been added as an approved licensure exam.
  • Massage therapist licenses are required to be displayed in the licensee’s place of practice.
  • Technical and cleanup changes have been made regarding restoration of licensure.
  • The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) has been added as an approved    continuing education sponsor.  The MLB already accepts CE provided by providers approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB); ABMP is a NCBTMB approved provider.