New Hampshire Bill Would Change Mandatory Licensing to Voluntary – Action Needed Now!

On October 27, 2011, the House Committee of Executive Departments and Administration voted (by a very narrow margin) to pass an amended version of HB 446. If passed by the full legislature, the bill would amend the current mandatory licensing programs for several professions (including massage therapy) and make “licensing” voluntary.  The next step in the process occurs on January 4th, 2012, when HB 446 will be voted on by the House of Representatives. Please contact your representative and ask them to vote “no” on HB 446. If you don’t know who your representative is, go to Why vote no? The massage and bodywork professions have been regulated in New Hampshire since 1980. The current licensing law sets entry-level standards for education and provides an avenue for consumer complaint. Consumers can, and do, hire the provider of their choice. With state regulation, they can at least be assured that the provider of their choice is trained in the profession and has met minimum entry-level requirements. Setting entry-level education standards for a health profession is not discouraging entrepreneurs, it’s protecting the public from untrained individuals. Given the nature and the physical environment during a massage therapy treatment session, a power differential exists and vulnerability is inherent.  The risk of potential harm is escalated in a profession where the client is typically unclothed but appropriately draped by a trained professional. While voluntary licensing may seem like a good compromise from the original intention of the bill sponsor to eliminate licensing all together - it will only serve to confuse consumers and practitioners alike. Only 5 states have had voluntary regulatory programs for massage therapists. Two have changed their voluntary acts to mandatory practice acts (New Jersey and Wisconsin), two (Indiana and Virginia) will be considering a change in 2012, and it’s likely that the one remaining state (California) will eventually do the same. Voluntary regulation is simply confusing and fails to protect the public from untrained individuals. ABMP is opposed to the bill. Voluntary regulation does not work. Please take a minute to email your representatives and voice your opposition to HB 446.