By Jack Dusik
The U.S. Senate today passed by a vote of 93-6 legislation that ensures that sports health professionals traveling to another state with athletic teams remain covered by their malpractice insurance. The bill now advances to the president’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.
H.R. 302, the “Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2018,” was amended to combine it with the 2018 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018, guaranteeing this important provision for athletic health professionals would become law.
As lawmakers drafted the legislation, the American Chiropractic Association worked to ensure that doctors of chiropractic, along with other providers, were included in the bill’s final language. The initial iteration of the bill would have excluded chiropractors from this initiative.
For years, chiropractors and other sports health practitioners traveling outside of their states to provide care for athletes were often left uncovered by their medical malpractice insurance, largely because of jurisdictional issues. This untenable situation placed these professionals in a position where treating injured athletes posed great legal and financial risk; if they were sued for malpractice, not only could their home state license be in jeopardy but their malpractice insurance may not cover them.
Congress, in recognition of the need to correct this glaring coverage issue, stipulated that health care services provided by a covered “sports medicine professional” to an athlete, athletic team, or team staff member in a secondary state outside that professional’s state of licensure will be covered by the appropriate medical malpractice insurance provider.
Jack Dusik is senior director of federal government relations at the American Chiropractic Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org