UPDATE: On October 5, 2018, the Sports Medicine License Clarity Act was signed into law by President Trump.
Your Academy’s Health Policy & Legislation (HP&L) Committee is proud to announce that on October 3, 2018, the Sports Medicine License Clarity Act passed both houses of Congress and will head to the President to be signed into law. This legislation has been a priority for the Academy, as it is crucial to preserving athletes’ access to timely, familiar, and specialized care while ensuring that sports medicine professionals, including physiatrists, have the ability to provide such care without fearing professional liability risk or violation of state licensure requirements.
U.S. Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) spearheaded the efforts to advance this bipartisan legislation in the Senate, and Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Cedric Richmond (D-LA) led the efforts in the House. Throughout the summer, the HP&L Committee worked closely with Congressional staff in both chambers to advocate for the bill’s passage. Additionally, in February of this year, members of the HP&L Committee went to Capitol Hill and spoke to members of the Senate about the importance of sports medicine professionals, including physiatrists, being able to provide high-quality, continuous health care services to the athletes they treat.
AAPM&R has strongly supported the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act because it would provide legal protections for sports medicine professionals (e.g., physiatrists) who travel to other states with an athletic club to provide on-field care for that team. The bill would deem treatment furnished by a covered sports medicine professional—to an athlete, athletic team, or a staff member of an athlete or athletic team in a secondary state—to have been provided in the professional’s primary state of licensure, ensuring that sports medicine providers may treat injured athletes across state lines without subjecting themselves to professional risk. At a time of great national emphasis on concussion in athletes and “return to play” standards, it is critical that the health care provider most familiar with the athlete—and his or her baseline level of function—be able to treat the athlete regardless of where the injury occurs.
The Senate passed the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act in early September. The bill became the vehicle for a larger legislative package in the House, requiring a return to the Senate for an additional vote. Yesterday’s passage of the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act is the culmination of a legislative process in which the bill was amended several times in both chambers of Congress to help ensure its passage with bipartisan support. Ultimately, the bill was coupled with a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a larger legislative package. The bill now proceeds to the President for his signature.
AAPM&R is grateful to Senator Thune, Senator Klobuchar, Representative Guthrie, Representative Richmond, and their colleagues for their efforts to help preserve athletes’ access to timely, familiar, and specialized care. The Academy wishes to congratulate HP&L for its diligence and success in advocating for passage of the bill as well as thank all the Academy members who took the time to write their representatives directly through the AAPM&R Advocacy Action Center request. #PMRAdvocates helped make this a big win for the specialty!