NYS Athletic Trainers Introduce Legislative Bills to Update their State Practice Act

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Behind the sponsorship of Senator Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) and Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Long Island), two identical bills have been introduced into the NYS legislature – one in the Senate and one in the Assembly – to update the Practice Act for athletic trainers (ATs). Since the inception of their Practice Act over twenty years ago, the AT profession has grown and evolved significantly, and this update is long overdue to ensure that certified athletic trainers can continue to provide their much-needed services across New York State.

NYSATA Members Advocate for Athletic Trainers at Lobby Day 2012

ATs want to be given every opportunity to practice as we've been educated to do, and give consumers across NYS the opportunity to choose us as the capable, cost-effective healthcare professionals we are.

April 3th and April 12th, 2013 were big days for athletic trainers (ATs) across New York State. The culmination of over one year’s work and preparation came to fruition when bill S4465 was introduced into the NYS Senate and bill A6678 was introduced into the NYS Assembly on those dates, respectively.

Behind the scenes, leaders within the New York State Athletic Trainers’ Association (NYSATA) have worked long hours to draft the specific language of the proposed Practice Act. The need for this change is simple: the current NYS Practice Act is over twenty years old and no longer reflects the rapid growth that has occurred in the AT profession. In addition, its current language has led to misinterpretations across the State that threaten to limit what certified athletic trainers can do, despite their high levels of education and training. Lastly, this legislation will grant Licensure to the AT profession, an upgrade from the current NYS Certification – which will require every practicing athletic trainer in the State to meet strict Licensing requirements, therefore further protecting the public from AT-related services from unqualified individuals.

Once the document-drafting stage was complete, the next imperative step was to reach out to legislators in Albany to find the right fit for bill sponsorship in both the Senate and the Assembly. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to forge a relationship with Senator Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) thanks to the large contingency of athletic trainers and their supporters in Buffalo and his understanding of the importance and value of the AT profession. Senator Grisanti welcomed this opportunity with open arms and on April 3rd, 2013, with himself as sponsor, introduced bill S4465.

Only a week later, Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Long Island) was brought on board to sponsor the same legislation in the Assembly. Assemblyman Lavine is a seasoned veteran in the legislature who has also shown knowledge of the profession of athletic training. Buoyed by strong support from ATs across Long Island, he graciously introduced bill A6678, with himself as sponsor, on April 12th, 2013.

NYSATA’s Governmental Affairs Committee Chair, Christine Jenkins, MS, ATC, who has spearheaded these efforts in Albany, states, “We’re excited about the progress we’ve made to get to this point, and on the heels of the recently passed Concussion Management Act of 2011 that included athletic trainers, we’re hoping the momentum will help us garner support from other legislators.”

In the coming weeks, both bills will be reviewed by the respective Higher Education Committees in the Senate and Assembly, and may come up for a vote if they receive enough support. Jenkins continues, “We know there are a lot of bills out there, but it’s our job to get out and educate the legislators – and the public – about the importance of this bill! Athletic trainers have tremendous value in the prevention, care, and management of orthopedic injuries in the physically active! We want to be given every opportunity to practice as we've been educated to do, and give consumers across NYS the opportunity to choose us as the capable, cost-effective healthcare professionals we are.”

Work, including grassroots efforts, will continue in the coming months on this issue, as athletic trainers and those who are supportive of the AT profession will continue to lobby for support of these bills. NYSATA members will be meeting face-to-face with legislators in Albany on May 22nd, as part of their annual Lobby Day event to reinforce the importance of this legislation, answer questions, and ask for their support.

Anyone who knows a certified athletic trainer, or has experience with the work that ATs do, can also help by contacting their local legislators to ask for their support of these bills.

NYSATA, founded in 1976 and incorporated in 1989, stands to advance, encourage and improve the profession of athletic training (AT) by developing the common interests of its membership for the purpose of enhancing the quality of healthcare for the physically active in New York State. Comprised of over 1,200 certified and practicing athletic trainers, NYSATA is the state-wide affiliate of the regional Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association (EATA) and District Two of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). Visit the new NYSATA website: gonysata2.org and follow us on Facebook: NYSATA, and Twitter: @GO_NYSATA.

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Deanna Errico
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