Michigan COVID-19 State Update—June 1 update and clarification for massage therapists

Prohibition of Practice

On June 1, 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order (EO) 2020-110, in which she opened some businesses in Michigan. Remaining closed, per Section 12 (c) are:

"non-essential personal care services, including hair, tanning, massage, traditional spa, tattoo, body art, and piercing services"

Paragraph 14 (b) exempts "services necessary for medical treatment as determined by a licensed medical provider."

There is no end date on this order, although toward the beginning of the order she mentioned parts of the order go through June 4, 2020, so it is possible another order is coming soon.

ABMP spent 6.5 hours in calls the past week helping develop guidelines for when our members can return to work and participating in a Board of Massage Therapy rule-making meeting. We expect guidelines to be issued in the near future. 

On May 26, 2020, we participated in a call with executives from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), where it was said that massage therapists who work with medical professionals could continue to work with a prescription or a referral. ABMP notified our massage therapy members. We sought clarification from LARA, and they responded to our questions with a statement yesterday, which states the following:

Facilities offering non-essential personal care services must remain 
closed under EO 2020-110. "Non-essential personal care services" 
includes hair, nail, tanning, massage, traditional spa, tattoo, body art, 
and piercing services, and similar personal care services that involve 
close contact of persons. This does not include services necessary 
for medical treatment as determined by a licensed medical provider 
which are performed in a health-care setting.

The rescission of EO 2020-17 allows outpatient health-care facilities, 
ambulatory care settings, physician offices, dental offices, and veterinary 
medicine to no longer postpone non-essential procedures. However, it 
does not permit spa services or other personal care services performed 
in non-health-care settings to resume.

Specifically as it relates to Chiropractic Medicine, Physical Therapy, 
and Occupational Therapy, these services may fully resume their health- 
care services, which are offered at an outpatient health-care facility such 
as an ambulatory care setting, surgical center, medical clinic, physician 
office, and within a health-care setting. Regarding massage therapy, 
licensees who work as an employee in a health-care setting
, such as 
for a Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine and treating patients, are allowed 
to work so long as they are providing massage therapy in a health-care 
setting (i.e., outpatient health-care facility, ambulatory care setting, 
physician office, health-care clinic, etc.). [emphasis mine]

A massage therapist shall not be providing personal care services and 
working in a non-health-care setting such as a salon, spa, wellness center, 
etc. Please be aware that employers who are re-starting safely and/or 
expanding their services must follow Executive Orders and have safety/ 
infection control protocols in place. 

The message sent indicates that a licensee has to be an employee in the health-care setting, which is contrary to the conversation we had on May 26 and also apparently contrary to EO 2020-110 in section 14 (b).

We are seeking clarification on whether a massage therapist must be an employee or can work off of prescription or referral, which was the understanding after the May 26, 2020, conversation.

LARA also issued updated FAQs for out-patient health-care facilities. We hope we will have information soon on whether our members can return to work if they so choose.

We appreciate your membership and will continue working on your behalf to update you as we learn more. Be safe and be well.

If you have questions or concerns, email us at gr@abmp.com.