MA Coalition of Holistic Practitioners
Please Oppose S. 168 (Formerly SD1840)
An Act Regulating Bodyworks is a bill that attempts to address human trafficking by unfairly targeting holistic healthcare practitioners.
1. S.168 is a professional licensure bill and does not directly address human trafficking.
2. Federal courts have frequently acted to limit occupational licensing, noting violation of constitutional protections, the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment or simply “an abuse of state regulatory power.”i
3. S.168 redefines more than a hundred holistic healthcare occupations as ‘bodywork’ with no evidence that these professions by themselves present any health or safety risk to the public.
4. S.168 would affect more than 100 holistic healthcare modalities and many thousands of practitioners who now provide for their families working in this field. Due to unnecessary and restrictive standards set forth in the bill many will decide to close their doors, adversely impacting their household and children. Unemployment claims will rise. Many practitioners are women.
5. S168’s requirement that modalities be taught at state-licensed schools would prevent many modalities from being taught in the Commonwealth because of the bureaucratic process, high licensure fee and bonds required. This would put countless practitioners out of business, hurting families, while giving rise to new jobless claims and causing a loss of schools and educational programs with restriction of trade and encourage monopolization of health care offerings to state-endorsed dominant professions.
6. The Massachusetts Interagency Human Trafficking Policy Task Force convened by Healey in 2013 did not recommend occupational licensing as a means to combat human trafficking. Neither did The Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 2013. Nor does the United States Department of State.ii
7. The Polaris Report on Attorney General Maura Healey’s webpage reports that the vast majority of trafficked women are either here illegally or on temporary visas from China and South Korea and that while the small number of offending massage parlors may appear to be individual business, they are often part of a larger organized crime network with several businesses linked together to launder money.iii
8. The National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 4 separate cases due to illicit activity in Massage/Spas for the first half of 2018 in a state with a population of nearly 7 million.iv
9. No data suggests these 4 cases would have been prevented through occupational licensing. Only law-abiding citizens comply with licensure laws. Common sense suggests criminal activity would persist or simply move to one of several other venues that currently harbor the vast majority of human trafficking cases.
10. S.168 would dramatically reduce citizen options for tens of thousands infringing on freedom of choice in a most precious area of personal liberty – health care. Nearly 50% of Americans utilize complementary care. Citizens will enjoy fewer choices at a time when more options are needed.v
11. S.168 would result in rationed care, driving up the cost for consumers to access safe, currently available healing methods.
12. Contrary to The Massachusetts Interagency Human Trafficking Policy Task Force recommendations, S.168 seeks to reduce human trafficking supply through occupational licensure rather than the demand for human trafficking through enforcement of existing ‘John laws’ or the promulgation of sensible new laws.
13. The Goldwater Institute Report: Protection Racket: Occupation Laws and The Right to Earn A Living suggests that while protecting the public is the standard argument made by industry lobbyists seeking licensure, there are often no clear health and safety benefit to many of those occupations that become regulated.vi The Upjohn Institute suggests that while higher prices with less access is a given, improvements in quality are dubious as compared to private certifications.vii
14. The Obama White House issued a set of best practices for state policymakers to enact reforms to reduce the prevalence of unnecessary and overly broad occupational licenses that are hurting workers and consumers.viii There is a better way to help law enforcement deter human trafficking – the Massachusetts Consumer Access and Right to Practice Complementary and Alternative Health Care Act (S.665/HD.3538) provides law enforcement with increased transparency through documentation of mandatory practitioner disclosures. Violators may be prosecuted by law enforcement agents with stiff penalties under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (MGL 93A).
i See, e.g., Cornwell v. California Bd. of Barber & Cosmetology, 962 F. Supp. 1260, Dist. Court, SD California (1997); Clayton v.
Steinagel, Dist. Court, D. Utah (2012); Abbey v. Castille, 5th Circuit (2013).
ii See 15 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking, U.S. Dept. of the State.
vii Licensing Occupations: Ensuring Quality or Restricting Competition?, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.