AMTA is pleased to announce that the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (“NOPAIN”) Act, S. 586, first introduced in the last Congress, was reintroduced on March 4 by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators: Capito (R-WVA), Manchin (D-WVA), Portman (R-OH) and Shaheen (D-NH). AMTA was an early endorser of the bill, working behind the scenes to ensure that it contained massage therapy. To that end, AMTA’s efforts led to the inclusion of a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) report to Congress on gaps and limitations in coverage for therapeutic services and recommendations for addressing barriers to care as identified in the May 2019 Pain Management Best Practices Inter-agency Task Force report. Massage therapy is listed throughout the Task Force report as an effective therapy for pain.
The NOPAIN Act will increase patient and provider access to non-opioid approaches to acute pain management and is part of AMTA's ongoing advocacy efforts at the federal and state levels to enact responsible policies that help increase access to massage therapy. Last year, AMTA members generated over 8,000 letters of support for NOPAIN to their respective House and Senate Members of Congress and helped garner 62 official bipartisan supporters ("cosponsors") in the House and 24 cosponsors in the Senate. Hopefully, with sustained AMTA efforts, we will move NOPAIN through Congress during this session.
Evidence continues to support what many massage therapists have probably already observed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; delayed or postponed access to needed medical care and non-opioid pain therapies, such as massage therapy, has only exacerbated the pain crisis in the U.S., which in turn has contributed to drug over-reliance and substance abuse.
Substance abuse is a multi-faceted problem that requires a comprehensive approach, which massage therapy on its own will not solve. However, AMTA believes that patient access to appropriate non-opioid therapies for pain, including massage, is an important component of any pain treatment plan. We hope that passage of the NOPAIN Act will be an important step to improve access to pain care by fostering access to complementary and integrative therapies such as massage.
Reintroduction of the bipartisan companion House bill is expected shortly, by NOPAIN House key leaders Reps. Sewell (D-AL) and McKinley (R-WV). The launch of the new 117th Congress offers opportunities for AMTA members to continue to build upon policymakers' steadily growing support for massage therapy. We will continue to keep you up to date on the NOPAIN Act and other AMTA advocacy initiatives.