Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act – Celebrating a Year of Cross-State Liability Protection

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December 5, 2019

By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC

The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act was signed by the President of the United States on October 5, 2018 and was a historic day for the profession of athletic training. With this act in place, Athletic Trainers (ATs) and other sports medicine professionals now have legal protection when traveling outside of their licensed state as part of their job.

Why is the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act Important?

Prior the law being signed, many states had no or minimal legal protection for ATs and other sports medicine professionals practicing outside of their primary licensure state. Most medical liability insurance carriers only cover activities in the primary state, which is an issue for teams that travel to other states or countries throughout the year. Once the AT crossed state lines, the liability insurance was no longer valid, putting the provider at professional risk simply by properly executing their profession.

There are some important points of the bill that ATs needs to know when traveling to a secondary state including:

  • The professional liability insurance coverage must be in effect to be considered under this bill.
  • The AT or other sports medicine professional must act within the scope of practice under their primary state’s practice act, even when in a secondary state.
  • There are two examples of care that are not included under “Covered Medical Services;” these are being at a health care facility or transporting an injured individual to a health care facility. A health care facility, in this bill, means a facility when diagnosis or treatment is provided on an inpatient or outpatient basis; it does not included facilities at an arena, stadium or any other practice facility.
  • Health care service provided by an AT or other sports medicine professional in a secondary state will now be deemed to have occurred in the professional’s primary state of licensure, if the primary state and secondary state’s licensure requirements are substantially similar.

Some of the supporters for this law include U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and every major American professional sports league. It also received support from the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the American Academy of Neurology, along with a number of other sports medicine organizations. In addition, it was co-sponsored by 27 Senators from 18 different states as well as co-sponsored by 39 members of the House of Representatives from 23 different states.

Below is a timeline of the process that occurred while getting the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act approved. This does not include the years of work by countless volunteers who helped get this bill created and helped find co-sponsors and supporters throughout duration of getting the bill signed. To begin with, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association worked with coalition members and members of Congress on draft language for the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act.

Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act Timeline

  • February 12, 2015→ Bill is introduced in the House of Representative by Rep. Brett Buthrie (KY) and Rep. Cedric Richmond (LA).
  • March 10, 2015→ Companion bill is introduced in the Senate as S. 689 by Senator John Thune (SD) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN)
  • December 2015→ H.R. 921 has first hearting with the U.S. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee
  • June 8, 2016→ HR 921 received full markup in the House Energy and Commerce Health Committee
  • June 22, 2016→ 400 ATs with the NATA went to Capitol Hill Day to advocate for the bill, which lead to 14 new co-sponsors
  • July 11, 2016→ Hearing scheduled with U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee for a full markup
  • July 13, 2016→ U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the bill and sent it to the full House of Representatives
  • September 12, 2016→ The House of Representatives passed H.R. 921. However, it did not make it to the Senate floor for consideration by the end of the year, so a re-introduction of the bill was required
  • January 2017→ Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY) and Cedric Richmond (LA) re-introduced the bill as H.R. 302 and it was approved by the House of Representatives. It was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and then passed on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
  • June 2018→ The Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ordered the bill to be reported with an amendment in the nature of a substitute favorable
  • July 8, 2018→ The bill was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders by the Senate
  • October 5, 2018→ Signed by President Donald Trump


Guthrie, B. "Text-HR 302-115th Congress (2017-2018): FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018-Sec. 11-12." Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act (2018).

N. (2018, October 5). What You Need To Know About the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act #SMLCA. Retrieved from

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