The Interstate Massage Compact (IMpact) is a proposed program that will help Massage Therapists to be able to work more easily in other states temporarily. The Interstate Massage Compact will be created once 7 states pass a bill making it so. That means legislators in the eligible states will need to write bills and get it passed in the states that want to join. Once passed, it can only be repealed with another bill.
History of the IMpact
The Department of Defense was offering a grant to various professions to help implement a compact license to help military families with people who are massage therapists to more easily be able to move from state to state as they are assigned to various places. The Federation of Massage State Boards applied and received the grant and began working on putting this together.
“In September 2020, the Department of Defense (DOD) entered into a cooperative agreement with The Council of State Governments (CSG) to fund the creation of new interstate compacts designed to strengthen occupational licensing portability. In collaboration with the Department of Defense, CSG developed and administered a competitive application process to select the professions for initial compact development in late 2020 and early 2021.” ~ See IMpact Development (PDF) on www.massagecompact.org
In addition to FSMTB, the following entities have contributed to the Interstate Massage Therapy Compact development process:
- American Massage Therapy Association
- Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals
- Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation
- Alabama Board of Massage Therapy
- Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy
- Florida Board of Massage Therapy
- Georgia Board of Massage Therapy
- Mississippi State Board of Massage Therapy
- Nevada Board of Massage Therapy
- Oregon State Board of Massage Therapists
- South Carolina Massage/Bodywork Panel
- Tennessee Board of Massage Licensure
- Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
- Virginia Board of Nursing
The history of the compact is outlined in this video:
MEMBER STATE REQUIREMENTS
There is specific language in the proposed bill as to what states can become members of this compact.
A. To be eligible to join this Compact, and to maintain eligibility as a Member State, a State must:
1. License and regulate the Practice of Massage Therapy; (NOTE: California, Wyoming, Kansas, Minnesota, and Vermont would be excluded because they do not have mandatory massage licensing.)
2. Have a mechanism or entity in place to receive and investigate complaints from the public, regulatory or law enforcement agencies, or the Commission about Licensees practicing in that State; (NOTE: the proposed mechanism for this is a database called Massage Therapy Licensing Database (MTLD) that is being created by the Federation of Massage Therapy State Boards. Boards would have to join this. This database was part of the original plan when the FMTSB was created 18 years ago.)
3. Accept passage of a National Licensing Examination as a criterion for Massage Therapy licensure in that State; (NOTE: Currently this is the MBLEx but other exams could qualify if created.)
4. Require that Licensees satisfy educational requirements prior to being licensed to provide Massage Therapy Services to the public in that State;
5. Implement procedures for requiring the Background Check of applicants for a Multistate License, and for the reporting of any Disqualifying Events, including but not limited to obtaining and submitting, for each Licensee holding a Multistate License and each applicant for a Multistate License, fingerprint or other biometric-based information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for Background Checks; receiving the results of the Federal Bureau of Investigation record search on Background Checks and considering the results of such a Background Check in making licensure decisions; (NOTE: There are some states where background checks are not required so to be a part of the compact, that state would have set up a process for applicants to get that done. This list from ABMP (PDF) shows that CT, HI, ID, IN, MA, NH, SC, SD,WV and WI do not require a background check. This needs to be confirmed.)
6. Have Continuing Competence requirements as a condition for license renewal; (Note: That would mean that states without CE requirements would not be allowed. The list from ABMP shows CO, IN, ME, MA, OH and UT don’t have CE requirements. We also may have an issue as there is a difference between Continuing Competence and Continuing Education. The Compact defines it as: “Continuing Competence” – a requirement, as a condition of license renewal, to provide
evidence of participation in, and completion of, educational or professional activities that maintain, improve, or enhance Massage Therapy fitness to practice.)
7. Participate in the Data System, including through the use of unique identifying numbers as described herein; (NOTE: This database is called the Massage Therapy Licensing Database (MTLD aka Matilda ) is being created by FSMTB and will be free for member states to use and populate. he SLB Portal will include licensure information, from multiple states if applicable; contact information; board and disciplinary action; school information, such as school name, location and education completion date; and more. Your state will have to join this database and input information to make this all work.)
8. Notify the Commission and other Member States, in compliance with the terms of the Compact and Rules of the Commission, of any disciplinary action taken by the State against a Licensee practicing under a Multistate License in that State, or of the existence of Investigative Information or Current Significant Investigative Information regarding a Licensee practicing in that State pursuant to a Multistate License;
9. Comply with the Rules of the Commission;
10. Accept Licensees with valid Multistate Licenses from other Member States as established herein;
B. Individuals not residing in a Member State shall continue to be able to apply for a Member State’s Single-State License as provided under the laws of each Member State. However, the Single-State License granted to those individuals shall not be recognized as granting a Multistate License for Massage Therapy in any other Member State;
C. Nothing in this Compact shall affect the requirements established by a Member State for the issuance of a Single-State License; and
D. A Multistate License issued to a Licensee shall be recognized by each Remote State as an Authorization to Practice Massage Therapy in each Remote State.
What States can join the compact?
NOT : California, Wyoming, Kansas, Minnesota, and Vermont – No Licensing
NOT: Colorado, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio and Utah – NO CE requirements
(NOT: Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin – No Background Checks)
NY and NE require 1000 hours of education so they would not people moving there with a lesser amount of education. New Hampshire and North Dakota require 750 hours of education so they probably would not want to join.
YES: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas , Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington.
What massage therapists can apply for a compact license?
The Compact states that:
A licensed professional message therapist must:
- Hold an active, unencumbered license in their home state.
- Have completed at least 625 clock hours of massage therapy education. (The 625 hours can be made up of basic massage school PLUS CE Classes. CE classes are quite varied and do not test to show competency of completion. The hope is that the compact will write rules that will require that CE classes that will be counted will come from NCBTMB approved classes, REACH approved classes, ABMP and AMTA classes. It is unknown at this time how it will actually work out. 70% of the programs already provide at least 625 hours of education and then 85% provide at least 600 hours.
- Have passed a national licensing examination. (NOTE: If you did not take the MBLEx, you will have to.)
- Submit to a background check.
- Have not been convicted or found guilty, or have entered into an agreed disposition, of a felony offense under applicable state or federal criminal law, within five years prior to the date of their application.
- Have not been convicted or found guilty, or have entered into an agreed disposition, of a misdemeanor offense related to the practice of massage therapy under applicable state or federal criminal law, within two years prior to the date of their application.
- Have not previously held a massage therapy license that was revoked by, or surrendered to, an applicable regulatory authority.
- Have no history of any adverse action taken by the applicable body responsible for the regulation of the massage therapy profession in the applicant’s home state within two years prior to the date of their application.
- Have not been convicted or found guilty, or have entered into an agreed disposition, of any offense, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, under state or federal law, at any time, relating to any of the following:
- Human trafficking.
- Human smuggling.
- Sexual battery, sexual assault, or any related offenses.
- Any other category of offense which the commission may by rule designate.
Who can move around from state to state?
The biggest point of confusion on this proposed compact is around who can move from state to state. Many people (like me!) were assuming that this would allow people to freely move from state to state once they applied for and were approved to receive a compact license. This is NOT True!
Moving Temporarily: The Interstate Massage Compact allows active-duty military personnel or their spouse to designate a home state and keep that designation as long as the service member is on active duty. It would allow massage therapists who move temporarily for seasonal jobs or in states where cities share state lines and have MT’s who might want to work in the neighboring city to move more easily. Franchises and chains could more easily move massage therapists to different areas that are lacking adequate numbers of massage therapists for special events or busy seasons.
Moving Permanently: If you move permanently, you will need to get licensed in your new home state as usual. You have to have an unencumbered home state license. If your home state charges, you need a new license. If your new home state isn’t part of the compact you cease to be eligible (even if you maintain a license in a compact state). Your home state must be your state of residence.
The common points of opposition or concerns.
The biggest issue with most of the massage compact is the way it limits or excludes massage therapists and states from being able to be in the compact. The licensing laws in the 50 US states vary so much in the number of hours of education required as well as things like CE, and special things that are only allowed in that state make it unfair to high numbers of therapists.
The other point of concern is with the required exam as right now we only have the MBLEx. Texas has just moved to creating their own exam saying that the shortage of massage therapists and the low numbers of people passing the MBLEx required them to take different actions. Will other states follow?
The 625 hour issue
The compact states: a massage therapist must have completed at least 625 clock hours of massage therapy education. This number most likely comes from the Entry Level Analysis Project (ELAP). The ELAP was created in 2012 by the 7 massage therapy organizations working together.
The language also allows that the rules making process will be able to have it so CE hours are included in this number. The commission would have to figure out a way to approve CE classes as they are all over the place and none of them actually test people to make sure they understand the material. The initial thought is that they would make the CE hours used have to be provided by AMTA, ABMP, NCBTMB and the FSMTB Reach program but it is still to be determined.
This restriction limits people and would require people to take extra training if needed to get the approved hours. It would be a burden of time and cost to massage therapists who live in states where there are less than 625 hours required for training.
From the FAQ’s on www.massagecompact.org it says:
“According to a 2022 FSMTB survey of massage therapy schools nationwide, 70% offer programs that provide at least 625 clock
hours of entry-level education and 85% provide at least 600 hours. The average number of clock hours of education was 723.”
My calculations show: 58% of states are under the 625 required hours.
20 % of states require more then the 625 hours.
10 % of states require the exact 625 hours.
10% have no licensing requirements.
ISSUE: The Exam Requirement
The compact also states :
“To enact the compact a member state must: Accept passage of a National Licensing Examination as a criterion for licensure.”
“To participate in the compact a licensed massage therapist must: Have passed a national licensing examination developed and administered by a national association of massage therapy regulatory boards.”
Currently that is the MBLEx created by the Federation of Massage State Boards. If you were grandfathered into your massage license and never took that exam, you would need to take the exam and pass. Hawaii has it’s own exam so the people there would have to take the exam.
Other exams could be created and accepted in the rule making process.
ISSUE: The CE Requirement also limits the number of MT’s who can participate.
Colorado, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio and Utah – NO CE requirements so they would not be able to participate until they get CE’s to be required.
The CE in the US is challenging at best with no proof that it is needed or that it does anything to maintain or improve the basic skills of a therapist that is needed to protect the public. CE classes do not usually test a MT to see if they understand the material. I have written about the issues with CE on my other website.
Once the bill is passed in a state, a representative from the current state board in that state will be appointed to the Compact Commission. Who will this be? Will they be able to handle the challenges? Will it constantly change?
Where will the money come from to do all this? The Department of Defense gave FSMTB a grant to develop the program. The DOD is funding this.
How much will it cost to move to another state? We don’t know until the rules are set.
Alternatives to Compact Licensing.
Some states already have laws and rules set up that allow military families to work in a state temporarily.
WA State just created a law that says:
2SHB 1724: It was passed this past legislative session. The rulemaking for this bill has not started yet. The bill makes several changes that apply to all professions including:
- Requiring disciplining authorities to waive education, training, experience, and exam requirements for applicants credentialed in another state with substantially equivalent standards. It also allows waiving requirements for applicants who have achieved national certification
The Department of Justice also just made an announcement that: it is issuing this letter to notify State Licensing Authorities of a new provision in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) about the portability of professional licenses for servicemembers and their spouses that states:
“Overview of the New Law on Professional License Portability
This new SCRA provision allows servicemembers and their spouses to use their professional licenses and certificates in certain circumstances when they must relocate due to military orders. For a license to be considered valid in a new location, a servicemember or their spouse must satisfy the following five criteria:
- Have moved to a location outside the jurisdiction of the licensing authority that issued the
covered license or certificate because of orders for military service;
- Provide a copy of the military orders to the licensing authority in the new jurisdiction;
- Have actively used the license or certificate during the two years immediately preceding
- Remain in good standing with:
a. the licensing authority that issued the covered license or certificate; and
b. every other licensing authority that issued a license or certificate valid for a similar
scope of practice and in the discipline applied for in the new jurisdiction; and
- Submit to the authority of the licensing authority in the new jurisdiction for the purposes
of standards of practice, discipline, and fulfillment of any continuing education
If these five criteria are met, the servicemember or their spouse’s covered license or
certificate “shall be considered valid at a similar scope of practice and in the discipline applied
for in the [new] jurisdiction” for the duration of military orders.
The New Law’s Impact on Interstate Licensure Compacts Some states are members of interstate licensure compacts, which allow licensed practitioners to work in other compact-member states without needing a new license or certificate. Where a servicemember or their spouse is relocating from one state to another state involved in the same interstate licensure compact, the rules of that interstate compact (instead of the new SCRA provision) apply to the covered license at issue.
If, however, a servicemember or their spouse has a license or certificate issued by a state involved in an interstate licensure compact, but is relocating to a state not involved in the same interstate compact, the new SCRA provision applies. Additionally, if a servicemember or their spouse has a license not covered by any interstate licensure compact, the new SCRA provision applies.”
That makes it seem like the DOD doesn’t know what the DOJ is doing and vice-versa.
Alternative: Implementing the Model Practice Act
The Model Practice Act was created in 2014 and the Entry Level Analysis Project was in 2012. We also have the Body of Knowledge that was created and just sitting idly by. They need to be updated and implemented. This could help in standardizing education requirements which is something that the massage profession desperately needs.
ABMP’s Position on the Compact
AMTA’s Position on the Compact – Letter of Support to WA Legislature Jan 2023
Learn About the Proposed Interstate Massage Therapy Compact Draft Bill 06/20/2022
AMTA’s Position on the Compact
AMTA and ABMP’s letters to Ohio Legislature. https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/135/sb56/committee
March 29, 2023
RE: SB 56: The Massage Therapy Interstate Compact
Chairman Huffman, Vice-Chair Johnson, Ranking Member Antonio and members of the
Senate Health Committee, Thank you for your time today. We are writing on the behalf
of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) in regards to Senate Bill 56
(SB56). AMTA is the largest non-profit, professional association serving massage
therapists, massage students and massage schools. Established in 1943, AMTA works to
advance the profession through ethics and standards, the promotion of fair and consistent
licensing of massage therapists in all states, and public education on massage therapy
health benefits. We represent more than 100,000 members nationwide, and over 4,000 in
AMTA fully supports and advocates for the rights of massage therapists to freely move
from state-to-state without excessive administrative and financial burdens for which we
believe the concept of an interstate compact is long overdue for the massage therapy
profession. And although AMTA has concerns regarding some of the language,
specifically but not limited to, setting the bar for education at 625 hours when that
number is inconsistent with how states are currently regulated, assurances have been
made by both CSG and FSMTB that a pathway for those practicing in states
that have fewer than 625 hours as a condition of licensing will be clarified through ‘rule’
once the Compact Commission is formed and we hope and expect that those assurances
will be honored. Ohio has the ability to take a seat at that table by being one of the first
states to pass this compact.
We appreciate Senator Roegner’s efforts on support Ohio’s massage therapy workforce
and the committee’s time and attention. We are available should you have any questions.
AMTA Senior Director, Government & Industry Relations
April 18, 2023
TO: Sens. Huffman, Johnson, Antonio, Hackett, Ingram, Romanchuk
CC: Sen. Roegner
RE: ABMP Supports SB 56, the Interstate Massage Compact
Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) provides professional liability insurance,
business resources, professional publications, and legislative and regulatory advocacy for more than
80,000 members nationwide, including over 1,500 members in Ohio.
ABMP is writing in support of Senate Bill 56, the Interstate Massage Compact (Compact). We are proud
to partner with the Council of State Governments and the Department of Defense to draft this language
and believe the Compact is ultimately a benefit to massage therapists, as it will allow licensed
practitioners to gain employment easier and faster in other compact states.
The Compact will be advantageous to military families moving around the country, reduce financial
burdens of massage therapists requiring and paying for multiple state licenses, and may affect Ohio’s
bottom line with potential increased taxable income. The Compact will also assist the Ohio State Medical
Board by enhancing public safety, reducing application processing time, and expanding cooperation
among state regulatory boards.
The Compact bill language was carefully drafted to ensure that licensed massage therapists will be
properly educated and vetted. Once a minimum of seven states passes the bill and the Interstate
Massage Compact Commission drafts rules, massage therapists in participating states will be able to
obtain a multi-state license so long as they have 625 hours of education and no encumbrances against
their license in their home state. Participating states will require continuing education for license renewal,
criminal background checks, and a disciplinary process.
ABMP fully supports the Compact’s efforts to increase the mobility of lawfully practicing massage
therapists in compact-participating states and encourages the Legislature to adopt the Interstate Massage
Please contact ABMP Government Relations Director Lance Hostetter at [email protected] or by phone
at 719-588-7310 if you have comments or questions.
Lance Hostetter, Government Relations Director
Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals