The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act was signed into law on October 5 after being introduced in January of 2017. It was summarized on the Congress website as “This bill extends the liability insurance coverage of a state-licensed medical professional to another state when the professional provides medical services to an athlete, athletic team, or team staff member pursuant to a written agreement. Prior to providing such services, the medical professional must disclose to the insurer the nature and extent of the services.”
So what does that mean in plain English?
Health insurance for an individual is typically confined to one state. Most healthcare professionals are therefore licensed in the state they live in, and no others. Treating someone out of state is practicing without a license. Besides potential fines and loss of license, healthcare professionals had no liability insurance in case something went wrong. For most healthcare professionals, particularly doctors, this is rarely an issue, but for athletic trainers, team physicians and other medical professionals who travel with sports teams, this could be a big problem, especially when treating a patient might lead to a loss of your job and financial consequences?
This bill protects that. It says that if a sports medicine provider is working across state lines, they will be protected by the law, and all of the practice will be treated as if it was in their home state. So a doctor can treat an athlete on a team they travel with without fear they will be prosecuted for practicing without a license or that they will be financially accountable without the coverage of liability insurance. Much of the advocacy behind the bill came from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, who supported the bill through its passing through Congress and into the White House.
“At Healthy Roster, we're all about giving athletic trainers the best tools on the market to not only keep athletes active and healthy, but to also help validate the role they play in our communities,” Dan Fronczak, President of Healthy Roster said. “This Act allows our healthcare providers to do what they do best - treat patients - wherever their role takes them, and since Healthy Roster is web and app-based, our platform can go with them."
As a result of the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, athletes can be cared for by the same healthcare professional as always, and that provider will be covered risk-wise for whatever they get treated for. That’s a win regardless of who you’re rooting for.