UPDATE (June 26): S.808 passed the committee vote without objection!
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) has a hearing scheduled to consider S. 808, the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, at 1:30 p.m. CT Tuesday, June 26. This is very important progress for S. 808 and marks the next step toward getting a full Senate vote.
Background: In many states, no legal protection is provided for athletic trainers or sports medicine professionals whose job requires travel outside of their primary state (where they are licensed), because medical liability insurance carriers do not cover activities performed while outside the boundary of the primary state. As such, providers are at great personal and professional risk by not having the benefit of medical liability insurance. It is not a reasonable solution to require practitioners to become licensed in every state where their teams will play during a given season, leaving them to choose between treating injured athletes at great professional risk or abandoning the athletes to whom they provide care.
The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act aims to alleviate this problem and preserve athletes and athletic teams’ access to high-quality health care services provided by athletic trainers and other sports medicine professionals.
Under the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act:
- Health care services provided by a covered athletic trainer or sports medicine professional to an athlete, an athletic team, or a staff member of the team outside of his or her home state would be deemed to have occurred in the professional’s primary state of licensure.
- This legislation simply treats medical services in the secondary state as occurring in the primary state if the secondary state’s licensure requirements are substantially similar to the primary state.
- Athletic trainers and other sports medicine professionals can engage in the treatment of injured athletes across state lines without fear of great professional harm, such as loss of license to practice, while protected from monetary loss with professional liability insurance.
As the leading organization representing athletic trainers, NATA fully supports the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act. The legislation also enjoys the support of the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the American Academy of Neurology, and numerous other physician and sports medicine organizations. Additionally, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and every major American professional sports league has endorsed the bill.
What is the pathway forward for this legislation?
The House of Representatives passed this bill and has been awaiting Senate action. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP)'s hearing will indicate whether the bill passes, which would make it available for full Senate consideration. Following this hearing, NATA will work with sponsors of the bill and Senate Leadership to schedule any debate. The Congressional schedule or time to consider the legislation will expire when Congress adjourns. This will likely happen around the second week of December.
If passed by the Senate, the two bodies will then move to conference the House and Senate versions. The other option is having the House agree to the Senate-passed bill.
How does the Senate Committee bill differ from the House passed bill?
In the Senate, we faced opposition related to states’ rights and how this legislation would impact state licensing. The Senate Committee’s draft includes language specific language about the secondary state’s licensing requirements be substantially similar to the requirements of any primary state. The term "substantially similar" means that both states have in place a form of licensure for such professionals that permits such professionals to provide covered medical services.
Do NATA members need to act by calling their elected officials?
At this point, we are not asking our membership to contact Senators about the legislation. However, the NATA legislative team will be contacting specific association members to take contact offices. These decisions are being made based on specific leadership offices that manage floor debates and legislative priorities.
We'll be using NATA social media feeds to keep members apprised of any updates during the hearing. Follow NATA on Twitter (@nata1950) to get the latest news. We also expect the hearing to be livestreamed, so you can listen to the discussion as it happens. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. CT.