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House Moves to License Massage Therapists (HB328/Nageak)

Nageak’s HB328 creates oversight board, enhances public safety, accountability

Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska House of Representatives today unanimously passed a bill by Representative Ben Nageak to license and oversee massage therapists. House Bill 328 creates the Board of Massage Therapists, which will sunset in 2018. Alaska is currently one of only six states that do not require massage therapists to be licensed.

“Our state is behind the regulation curve for this form of health care,” Nageak, D-Barrow, said. “House Bill 328 is really a matter of professionalism, accountability, and most importantly, public safety.”

The bill creates a whole host of reforms, including establishing a regulatory framework, licensure requirements and exemptions, and transitional language to offer Alaskans reasonable consumer protections and a standard of care. The licensure will be carried out by the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing within the Dept. of Commerce.

“Massage therapy is a growing profession, estimated at more than 120 new therapists per year, and we must meet that demand with proper safeguards for Alaskans,” Nageak said. “Regulation isn’t always looked upon as a good thing, but in this instance it is welcomed by the industry. They want the public to know that they have the professional and educational backgrounds to provide a service. At the same time, thanks to the bill, they can increase their opportunity to develop their businesses through new partnerships.”

The licensing requirement in the bill will also give providers a small business boost, allowing therapists to become preferred providers and bill insurance companies directly versus going through chiropractors, physical therapists and physicians.

HB 328 now moves to the Alaska Senate for consideration.

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