AMTA OR Winter Newsletter 2020
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Wow, what a year! 2020 is almost behind us and I know many of us can’t wait to see it in the rear view mirror, including myself. I do hope you and yours are making the best of it you can, and are staying safe and healthy.
In early December AMTA National released tools and protocols to the State Chapters so they may conduct virtual meetings and webinars. The AMTA OR chapter is looking forward to using these new tools to connect with you in 2021. National also announced that there will be no in-person meetings or events until after June 1st, 2021. That means our April Oregon annual meeting, elections, and education will all happen virtually. With the timeline needed to organize events, and secure teacher/venue contracts, we will not be looking at an in-person event until at least September 2021. That can’t come soon enough as we’ve missed being with you terribly. Any 2021 virtual education events we can deliver to you will be free of charge to AMTA-OR members, to help offset the burden this pandemic has been for so many of us. Stay tuned for more details.
We would also love to hear from any members that would like to be more involved as a volunteer in our chapter, or run for an elected board position. We are seeking folks that can contribute to our Government Relations Committee, Financial Administration (If spreadsheets and #’s are your thing, this role is for you!) Membership Committee and Education Committee. Please reach out to me @ email@example.com for more information or to throw your hat in the ring.
I’m looking forward to the first newsletter of 2021 where we’ll see the return of sections such as: Upcoming Events. : )
Thanks for hanging in there with us and here’s to a brighter 2021!
-In this Issue:
Mark Retzlaff once again keeps us up to date on changes @ OBMT, their ongoing emergency rule changes for CE and Renewals, plus OSHA/OHA rulemaking info in the Government Relations Report. A big thanks to Mark for all his hard work!
Lowell Welch, Board Member, Education Chair, and Delegate gives us an update about attending the Assembly of Delegates National Virtual Meeting in the Education Chair’s note.
Take care and see you soon,
Aaron Gustafson, AMTA OR President & Editor
The 2021 Legislative Session is just around the corner, and the process of advancing new bills is already underway. The Utilization Management bill that stalled in 2020 (after Republican legislators walked-out of the session) is back for another attempt. This bill is designed to limit the administrative burden on healthcare providers when seeking reimbursement from insurance companies. Requirements such as prior-authorizations and step therapy would have limits, and insurance companies would be required to clarify their reimbursement processes and coverage criteria. This bill was drafted with input from a wide variety of healthcare associations in Oregon, and we are proud to join them.
Additionally, there is a possibility of an insurance billing reform measure specifically for CAM services. A similar concept passed in Washington State last year. We are interested in partnering with other provider associations on this effort to reduce the barriers to utilizing effective pain management services. When these bills get closer to the committee hearing process, the Government Relations team will put out a call for testimony from our members.
At the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists meeting in November, the director announced that the temporary CE rule suspension would continue into the new year. (A previous email announcement had indicated the rules would expire after December 31st, 2020.) The rule suspension will continue for as long as we are in the Governor-declared state of emergency. Details are on towards the bottom of the OBMT homepage.
Also at the November meeting, the board proposed administrative rule changes that would give the executive director the authority to temporarily reduce CE hours to the statutory minimum (currently 12 hours) in the event of future emergencies, without needing to seek authorization from the Governor’s office. The board’s proposed rules will go to administrative rule hearing after the mandated waiting period. AMTA Oregon supports this rule change.
November was the first meeting for the newest LMT member of OBMT, Carol Gray. An additional LMT member seat will open in early 2021, so please consider whether you would like to apply. This is a great opportunity to serve the public and influence the future of massage therapy in Oregon. If you have questions about the position or would like to apply, please get in touch with me @ firstname.lastname@example.org . AMTA can put forward recommendations for LMT members to the board and we are searching for qualified candidates, especially those who are from underrepresented communities.
Finally, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) released temporary rules related to COVID-19. The rules, which are effective November 16th, 2020 through May 4, 2021, include important infection control procedures and training requirements. All businesses that use LMT employees are subject to the rules and must complete risk assessments and employee training. (Resources and templates are available from OSHA here.) These may be completed in-house and are not required to be submitted to OSHA. If you are self-employed, the OSHA rules do not apply to you.
I submitted a comment on what was supposed to be a “near-final” draft of the rule changes, but did not see or respond to the final draft before it was approved. Unfortunately, the final rules included changes that I would have opposed: specifically, making certain recommendations from the OHA guidelines (written back in May) mandatory, such as wearing gloves and changing clothes between clients. I reached out to Oregon OSHA with my concerns and raised them with OBMT as well, but I did not receive a reply from OSHA. So far, I have not heard of any enforcement actions against LMT employers who are not wearing gloves during massages. These rules will be replaced on May 4, 2021, and we will advocate for rules that focus on the most important transmission factors.
2020 Assembly of Delegates Overview:
The 2020 Assembly of Delegates (AOD) was unique this year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the AOD had to meet virtually. There were 70 people signed in to participate in the meeting. This represented 45 chapters throughout the United States. The format was interesting, using GoToWebinar platform. The only ones you saw were the speakers. We did have the ability to send input to the speakers via text through the platform. At parts of the meeting we were broken into groups. We used phones to access the group and go over the discussion topic. There was only one topic this year: Training Needs – What do you think you needed to know that you didn’t coming into your various volunteer position(s)? Much of the information was delivered prior to the meeting on the Volunteer HUB on the AMTA website, through the Delegate Forum.
There were numerous ideas around the volunteer training needs that were generated. Three themes were repeated throughout: (a) Leadership training is very important. (b) Further development of a “Mentoring” program is needed. (c)Financial support for training at the Chapter level should be considered.
There were pros and cons with this year’s meeting for the AOD. On the pro side was we did not have to cancel the meeting. The Delegates were able to voice their concerns with the discussion topic. On the con side was the lack of face to face interaction and not seeing people in the virtual meeting. The limited ability to discuss the topics during the virtual meeting was also hard. Even although this year was overall a success. I believe we’d all prefer to have the meeting in person next year, if possible.
Looking forward to that,
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