By Nikki Arel, Government Relations
From the moment that Governor Lamont released his budget, Becca and I have been hard at work! Massage Therapy is currently exempt from sales tax; the new budget is looking to remove that exemption.
We had our Lobbyist submit our two letters, by hand, to Governor Lamont opposing the tax, the Friday after the budget was released. We were working on the Engage letter for the membership as well, getting input from our Lobbyist as well as National. Once that was completed and approved, National released the letter to our 2,500 members in Connecticut. Despite an initial hiccup, all members DID receive the email and the ability to send the email letter to the Budget and Finance Committee as well as their individual Senators and Representatives.
Becca and I had personal phones, FB threads, emails and IM’s blowing up with members who did not receive the email. Let me please highlight that if you did not get the email, National does NOT have the correct email address on file. We have been sending the requests forward and most of our members seem to be taking quick action on sending their emails. But please, double check your email on file with National. There are occasions where the Chapter has updated your email, like when we are alerted that you are not getting your newsletters, but that does not flow upwards to National, so please do verify that you address is correct.
At the same time, we were looking for information from our Lobbyist as to who to best target, and in what fashion, for a client-driven letter campaign. Once we had the go-ahead for snail mail letters to the Co-Chairs on the Budget and Finance Committee, we posted those on our website, FB page and sent an email to the membership. Sorry that the first send did not have the hyperlink! But once that was re-sent, members seemed to quickly jump upon the efforts to have clients write letters as well.
Additionally, as we are advised to do so, we are requesting meetings with legislators who are open hearing our concerns and hopefully align with our profession.
At some point, this Budget may go into a public hearing. If that happens, we will be using all the same channels to alert you and to ask for public support. Please note, if you come to support at the hearing, plan for an all-day affair with a lot of waiting. But the show of LMT’s in big number would send a wonderful message! More details on that if, and when, this becomes a reality.
Please do keep your message ON POINT with one consistent theme: We are Healthcare Professionals, not personal service providers. We should not be included in the sales tax bracket as health care is not subject to sales tax. Please do not spread mis-information. If you do not have a resource that backs your statement, please use caution in stating something as fact. We need to appear well-informed, coordinated and professional. We have provided, in the Engage letter, facts and research that are wonderful to quote. While not all healthcare plans cover massage, the new Medicare directive will hopefully increase coverage in other plans. We need to highlight that we recently increased the minimum education requirements to enter the field and that we carry liability insurance on-par with LPN’s.
As you talk to your clients and other LMT’s who may not be AMTA members, please remember to keep the discussion about massage therapy as health care and benefits in pain reduction, improved mobility, reduced effects of stress, and the like. If you need some references? Please use the AMTA website and look at our position statements, where we have statements backed by research to show the importance and benefit of massage on a variety of conditions.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly. The best way: GovRelAMTACT@gmail.com. Although I will get other forms, this is the best way to reach me at any time. And with Legislature in session? You know I check this more than my work email!
Finally, I encourage EVERYONE to plan to join us for Legislative Awareness Day, where we will be talking up and highlighting how important massage is to a wellness and health maintenance plan!