AMTA’s Efforts In Advancing the Recognition of Massage Therapy Within Integrative Medical Care

Published: May 11, 2022

The following was presented by Kim Kane-Santos, AMTA National Director, Board of Directors, at the AMTA-MA Chapter Annual Meeting.

The AMTA Government Relations team continues to collaborate with national health care organizations and federal agencies to increase the acceptance of massage therapy as an important part of an integrated approach to health and wellness, with an emphasis on pain management.

Here are some highlights on AMTA’s work and accomplishments on behalf of all members and the entire massage therapy profession over the past year: 

∙ From the beginning, AMTA was an early endorser of the NOPAIN ACT legislation, which aims to increase patient and provider access to non-opioid approaches to acute pain management. We engaged massage therapists like you, from across the country to take action by approaching elected officials locally to support the NOPAIN ACT. And, we continue to support the NOPAIN ACT by collaborating with our key partners such as Voices for Non-opioid choices and the U.S PAIN FOUNDATION. If passed, the NOPAIN ACT would enhance access to integrative therapies such as massage. It would also increase the recognition of massage therapy as a billable benefit.

∙ AMTA also supports CARA 3.0. This is a bipartisan piece of legislation that is focused on increasing funding authorization levels for certain programs, including a comprehensive approach to tackling issues related to chronic and acute pain and substance abuse. CARA 3.0 includes several provisions of interest to massage therapists and other integrative providers, including new research into non-opioid pain management alternatives and increasing continuing education for physicians and providers. The bill also contains specific language that requires the U.S Department of Health and Human Services to report to Congress, on identified gaps in Medicare coverage for pain, including massage therapy, and to make recommendations to expand patient access to integrative therapies.

∙ In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the 2022 draft CDC Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids in the United States. Recently, AMTA participated in a multi-stakeholder meeting with 45 leaders representing over 30 national organizations to collectively comment on the Draft. We offered our guidance to the CDC to promote integrative pain management, including both non-pharmacological therapies and team-based care. The CDC has indicated that they have heard the massage community, and are actively considering AMTA’s suggestions.

∙ AMTA also collaborated with key partner organizations to educate health care providers, insurance companies and patients on the benefits of integrative therapies including massage. This raises the profile of the profession as a non-pharmacological alternative to pain management. We submitted a comment letter encouraging the FDA to strengthen provider education for opioids to ensure that more patients have access to the full range of treatment options - including integrative care such as massage to address pain-related issues.

Together, we will build upon these accomplishments and continue to advocate for massage therapy and its important role in health and wellness in 2022 and beyond. Thank you for your part in moving the massage therapy profession forward.