Simi Valley Sophist

The Simi Valley Sophist ruminates on all manner of topics from the micro to the macro. SVS travels whatever path strikes his fancy. Encyclopedia Britannica: Sophist "Any of certain Greek lecturers, writers, and teachers in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, most of whom travelled about the Greek-speaking world giving instruction in a wide range of subjects in return ..."

Location: California, United States

Retired: 30years law enforcement-last 20 years Criminal Intelligence Detective.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

An Open Letter on Massage to CA State Sen. Figueroa

Dear Sen. Figueroa,

Thank you for taking on the project of ushering through a state massage bill. I can only imagine how the various stakeholders are pushing and shoving at you. Having said that, I’ll now take my turn.

I have been a massage therapist for 6 years and a police officer for 26 years. The last 16 years of police work have been in criminal intelligence. In that capacity, I have had experience working on Asian prostitution/organized crime. A specialty of Asian prostitution is the camouflaging of itself within the legitimate massage industry.

I was also instrumental in the adoption of a local massage ordinance that met the needs of the police department in combating prostitution and treats the massage therapists with respect as lawful citizens providing a valuable service to the community.

I have several opening points to make to you

  • Many local cities and their police departments are victimizing the legitimate massage community and treating them as if they are criminals in an effort to suppress prostitution.
  • State licensing of the massage industry is not warranted as a mechanism to protect the safety of the public.
  • There are massage industry entities interested in carving out a competitive niche in the growing medical/health financial pie at the expense of the majority of the massage community.
  • The vast majority of massage therapists in CA are not members of the two large national massage therapy organizations. As such, they have virtually no voice in the state licensing debate.

From a public needs perspective, unlike the medical industry, there is no need for state regulation of the massage industry because massage is not physically invasive and there is almost no history of malpractice related injury.

The vast majority of the massage community is not by nature in favor of state regulation. But, they have been so abused by local regulators that they are willing to embrace the state concept. Preemption from local regulations is mandatory for their support of the bill. See my previous blog for additional details.

There is no justification, nor objective evidence, that 500 hours of entry level massage training lends itself to a more professional massage therapist than does the 250 hours stipulated as entry level for the proposed massage practitioner tier. The magic number of 500 hours comes from the American Massage Therapist Association’s requirements for membership in their organization and for qualifying to take the AMTA’s private national certification test. Many states have adopted the 500 hour standard, as if it were the Holy Grail.

For massage therapists desiring to work in the medical field, and reap the benefits of insurance reimbursement, 500 hours of general massage training is not sufficient education. They need specialized medical massage training above and beyond basic massage training.

Based on state licensed health industry standards, there is no justification to adopt an elitist two tier educational requirement for entry level massage licensing. A two tier system panders to a minority who want to unjustifiably elevate themselves in name as “massage therapists” while demeaning the majority as “massage practitioners.”

Physicians, chiropractors, dentists, physical therapists, etc. are not licensed by the state at various tiers. They are licensed to practice by the state, and they demonstrate special training by certification from various specialty boards. Why should massage therapists be any different?

The Grandfathered and Conditional Grandfathered Massage Practitioner requirement of 5 years of work experience at 250 massage hours/year is unworkable and unfair to those who trained in good faith, and who are part-time licensed massage therapists. A great number of competent massage therapists provide a valuable public service while working in massage part-time as they balance family and other work responsibilities. They can ill afford the cost and time of mandatory additional training of 30 hours/year just to be state licensed.

Grandfathering should be based wholly upon whether or not the individual qualified and was locally licensed. The high rate of the massage industry attrition will eventually eliminate this category of licensing.

Here is the only workable and fair method of introducing state licensing, which is only needed to protect the massage community from local regulatory abuse anyway:

  • Preempt local regulation.
  • Set a one tier entry level hourly training level to go into effect sometime in the future.
  • Grandfather all local massage licensees up to a designated cut-off date.

I am an advocate for more education, but I advocate it for personal development and to provide a better service to my clients. I don’t seek it so that I can create an artificial competitive advantage for myself by my title. It is the business of the state to protect the public, not create an artificial competitive advantage for a select portion of the massage community.

The proposed massage law as written will:

  • Do nothing to qualitatively improve the competence of massage therapists;
  • Do nothing to reduce the infiltration of prostitution into the massage industry;
  • Create an elitist and unjustified two tier system;
  • Put many competent massage therapists out of business;
  • Drive some currently licensed massage therapists underground to join those who have fled the tyranny of local regulators.

I previously posted a blog on the subject matter including pertinent links.

Thank you for your attention.