U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today introduced a bill clarifying that sports medicine professionals who travel outside their primary licensed state to provide care for the athletes will be covered by their medical malpractice insurance.
Thune and Klobuchar’s bill, the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, stipulates that health care services provided by a covered sports medicine professional to an athlete, athletic team, or staff member of an athlete or athletic team in a secondary state outside the state of licensure will be covered by the professional’s medical malpractice insurance provider. The bill removes questions about licensing jurisdiction and eliminates ambiguity about malpractice coverage when a provider is technically practicing out-of-state while treating a patient from the provider’s home state.
“It’s hard to believe sports medicine professionals treating the same athletes on the road that they do at home could be exposed to great professional and financial risk for doing so,” said Thune. “But that scenario is far too common and an important reason why we need to take common-sense steps to shield these sports medicine professionals from assuming the risk. While some states provide legal protection for these health professionals, many providers are still left with the decision of treating an injured athlete or accepting liability. I hope my colleagues will join us in supporting this bill to help deliver better care for traveling athletes while providing legal protections for sports medicine professionals.”
“Sports medicine providers who travel outside their state should be able to treat the same athletes they treat at home without facing unnecessary legal risks,” Klobuchar said. “This bipartisan bill would ensure the protections that sports medicine professionals need to provide athletes with quality care don’t stop at the state line.”
“As a team physician for the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA team, Minnesota Lynx WNBA team, and US Ski and Snowboard teams, I have to travel with the teams to multiple different locations throughout the United States,” said Dr. Jonathan Finnoff, member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “As the team physician, the athletes and coaching staff depend on me to keep them healthy and ready for competition. Passing this legislation will enable me to do my job and take care of athletes without the fear of litigation no matter where we are in the United States. For me and many of my colleagues in sports medicine, this legislation is pivotal to our job and helps us ensure the safety of our athletes.”
Currently, in most states, sports medicine professionals who travel outside of the state to provide care for athletes are not covered by their medical malpractice insurance since it is beyond their licensed area to practice medicine. Thune and Klobuchar’s bill would allow sport medicine providers to engage in the treatment of injured athletes across state lines without taking on great professional and financial risk.
Thune and Klobuchar’s bill is supported by the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the American Osteopathic Association, the trade association for medical professional liability organizations (PIAA), and the South Dakota Medical Association.