U.S. House Passes Legislation to Protect Athletes and Medical Professionals  

DALLAS – The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act (H.R. 302), introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Cedric Richmond (D-LA), was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The legislation, which would protect athletic trainers and other sports medicine professionals who travel out of state with an athletic team to provide care, ultimately ensures that the medical care of athletes is not jeopardized.

The next step is for the legislation to be introduced in the U.S. Senate. If it receives a passing vote in the Senate, it will go to the president’s desk for final signature to make it a law.

 H.R. 302 clarifies medical liability rules for athletic trainers and other medical professionals to ensure they’re properly covered by their liability insurance while traveling with athletic teams in another state.

Under the bill, health care services provided by a covered athletic trainer or other sports medicine professional to an athlete, athletic team or a staff member in another state will be deemed to have satisfied any licensure requirements of the secondary state.

After several years of collaborative work between a group of health care organizations spearheaded by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and members of Congress, the bill (formerly H.R. 921) was passed by the House of Representatives on Sept. 12, 2016, but was not approved by the Senate before Congress adjourned in December.

“NATA is proud to have championed this legislation that will not only benefit our 44,000 members and the millions of patients they serve, but that will also support health care professionals all over the country, including our initial partners in this effort, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM),” said NATA President Scott Sailor, EdD, ATC. 

Once this legislation is passed, health care providers will be able to treat injured athletes across state lines without the fear of incurring great professional loss. This bill reinforces the sports medicine team collaborative approach to care among physicians, athletic trainers and others. It is also vital in light of playoffs and championship games from youth to professional sports and where teams travel a great distance with little notification. 

“H.R. 302 addresses a unique problem that sports medicine professionals face when traveling with their teams out of state,” said Rep. Guthrie. “There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the legal protection for these practitioners who are licensed and covered by malpractice insurance to practice in their home state, but may not be covered when they travel to another state for a game, tournament or other sporting event. H.R.302 clarifies that these professionals can provide quality and timely health care for injured athletes without putting their personal and professional lives at risk.”

NATA is pleased that the House of Representatives has decided to take action on this important legislation and continues to work tirelessly to advocate on behalf of athletes and athletic trainers.