The California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) voted 5–1 to raise massage therapy certification fees to $300, a 50 percent increase, beginning April 1, 2023.
ABMP is vehemently opposed to this fee increase, as well as the process by which the increase proposal was handled by the CAMTC.
Why ABMP Opposes the Fee Increase
In 2018, the CAMTC executive team sought to increase individual certification fees from $150 to $300. Dialog involving both the public and engaged board members led to a compromise fee of $200 that went into effect that year.
In a spring and summer 2022 legislative process, CAMTC got its authority to operate extended for four years. In that process, they made no mention of intention to increase fees or dramatically expand their executive function. A subsequent decision to seek approval for a fee increase in late November was implemented without engaging key legislative oversight persons. The November 29 CAMTC board meeting was choreographed, including combining fee increases with a proposed 2023 budget, to provide minimal time for background material review and dialog from stakeholders.
ABMP opposed the fee increase for these reasons:
- The fee increase is out of proportion when considering states of similar profession size (for instance, two-year massage license renewals in Florida and Texas cost $105 and $75, respectively).
- Only four states (Alaska, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada) charge more than $200 and the average number of licensees in those states is 3,600 versus California’s 50,000. Scale matters, as it should be more efficient and less costly to handle applications and disciplinary functions in states with large numbers of therapists.
- The 2023 fee increase approved by CAMTC, which is the most top-heavy state massage organization in the US, is unduly burdensome to massage therapists’ incomes.
- A $300 fee, for a supposedly voluntary credential, is high enough to deter some therapists from seeking CAMTC certification, the result of which will lesson public protection.
Regulatory costs for California massage activity should be compared against similar scope states, not the geographically close-by states. For these reasons above, ABMP supports a return toward the $150 initial and renewal fees.
Why ABMP Opposes CAMTC’s Process
ABMP has for years decried CAMTC expanding their purview beyond their original legislative charter. Now add to the list CAMTC’s lack of transparency. One example of this is that the procedural issues surrounding the vote on this fee increase have an unseemly appearance. Though the process was technically compliant, there was no opportunity for discussion and debate to inform the rate-structure solution. In addition:
- There was barely a quorum of the board in attendance (six of the 11 members) at this meeting.
- Extensive background materials were only distributed two business days in advance of the board meeting, one of which was the Friday after Thanksgiving.
- Only three members of the public were in attendance. Because of a board motion combining budget and fee matters, they were only given 2 minutes each to address the full array of issues. The only two who spoke were ABMP Government Relations Director Laura Embleton and ABMP Chairman Bob Benson.
- None of the communications from ABMP members and others opposing a fee increase ahead of the meeting were read aloud or entered into the meeting record.
Feel free to contact CAMTC at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have concerns over CAMTC’s rate increase and the means by which their process was conducted. Please also send a copy of your communication to email@example.com.
For a more in-depth breakdown of this rate increase process, read the CAMTC Process Synopsis document by ABMP Chairman Bob Benson here.
To read Benson’s intended remarks for the November 29 CAMTC meeting, click here. To read ABMP Government Relations Director Laura Embleton’s intended remarks, click here.
To access the entire 166-page CAMTC Board of Directors Meeting Packet, made available to the public November 25, click here.