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New law reduces barriers to athletic trainers

October 8, 2018 / Sports Medicine & Nutrition
After several years of collaborative work with members of Congress, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) announced Friday that the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act was signed into law.

The new law significantly improves legal protections for athletic trainers and other sports medicine professionals, when traveling outside of their primary state of licensure to deliver medical care to their athletes. NATA calls this a tremendous step in providing necessary and critical health care to all athletes by reducing the barriers for these health care professionals in caring for their patients.

“The passing of the national Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act is a historic day for the NATA, its 45,000-plus members and athletes of all levels and ages,” said NATA President Tory Lindley, MA, ATC. “While this bipartisan law advances safety practices for all sports medicine professionals, it will greatly impact athletic trainers who routinely travel with teams to provide preventative and immediate care. It recognizes, at an unprecedented level, the integral and lifesaving role athletic trainers, as well as all sports medicine professionals, play in athletic health care.”

Changes under the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity law

  • Athletic trainers 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.
  • 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 treats medical services rendered in the secondary state as occurred in the primary state if the secondary state’s licensure requirements are substantially similar to the primary state.

Prior to the signing of this law, many states had no legal protection for sports medicine professionals whose jobs often require travel outside of their primary state where they are licensed. This was because medical liability insurance carriers did not cover activities performed while outside the boundary of their primary state. As such, providers were at great personal and professional risk while executing their profession by not having the benefit of medical liability insurance.

The newly signed Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, first introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in the Senate and Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-2) and Rep. Cedric Richmond (LA-2) in the House, alleviates this issue and preserves athletes’ and athletic teams’ access to consistent and high-quality health care services provided by athletic trainers and other sports medicine professionals.

The law also received the endorsement of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and every major American professional sports league. Additionally, it has received support from 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.

Read more about the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act in its entirety, please visit here.


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