September 7, 2018 by JordanG

The Senate passed the S.808 Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2017, introduced by Senator John Thune [R-SD] and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), which provides legal protections for sports medicine professionals, such as athletic trainers, when traveling outside their primary state to care for student athletes. This is a monumental feat and a positive step toward reducing barriers when caring for student athletes.

In many states, no legal protection is provided for 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,” said NATA President Tory Lindley, MA, ATC.

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 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.
  • 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.

“NATA fully supports the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act; and has committed significant efforts to support its passage,” said Lindley. 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.

Next steps: The legislation will now go back to the House of Representatives to approve language changes made by the Senate. Once the House approves the changes, it will advance to the President for signature.