Massage & Bodywork

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2021

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L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m p.co m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 33 the broad accessibility of massage therapy to all people who could benefit. (Note: Nobody will ever "make" you take insurance.) According to the Virtual Mentor (from the AMA Journal of Ethics), "In a population-based survey, 27 percent of African-Americans and 28 percent of Hispanics over the age of 50 reported having severe pain most of the time; only 17 percent of non-Hispanic whites did." In addition, "There is overwhelming evidence that the management of pain in the United States is inequitable." 3 The lack of access to massage therapy is part of this inequity. Massage therapy must become a standard Medicare- and Medicaid- reimbursable intervention. If we are not compelled to do this solely for the benefit of others, we can look to civil rights leader Derrick Bell's "Interest Convergence Theory." Bell theorized that "The interest of [B]lacks in achieving racial equality will be accommodated only when it converges with the interest of whites." 4 Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) in the US have a long history of undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and untreated or undertreated pain and chronic illness. We can continue to think about this as "their problem," or we can recognize the opportunity that exists for all of us in turning to face it head on. We stand to gain lower health-care costs for all people, a healthier population overall, and more opportunity to thrive for clients and practitioners alike. Imagine adding more than 300,000 massage practitioners to the health-care workforce. Now that's some impact. Insurance is a place where massage therapy could make a big dent in the equity fight. We will have to relinquish some of the "power" that lies in continuing to work outside the system, but when we clear this hurdle, we will gain much more than we will lose, and when I say "we," I mean humans. Notes 1. Oluwakemi Balogun and Ann Blair Kennedy, "Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Massage Therapy Profession," International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork 13, no. 3 (September 2020): 1–5, https://doi.org/10.3822/ijtmb.v13i3.571. 2. Oluwakemi Balogun and Ann Blair Kennedy, "Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Massage Therapy Profession." 3. Ronald Wyatt, "Pain and Ethnicity," Virtual Mentor 15, no. 5 (May 2013): 449–54, https://doi. org/10.1001/virtualmentor.2013.15.5.pfor1-1305. 4. Derrick A. Bell, Jr., "Brown v. Board of Education and the Interest-Convergence Dilemma," Harvard Law Review 93, no. 3 (January 1980): 518–33, https://doi.org/10.2307/1340546. FOR MORE INFORMATION Listen to Cal Cates's and Cathy Ryan's podcast Massage Therapy Without Borders on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or healwell.org. Cal Cates is an educator, writer, and speaker on topics ranging from massage therapy in the hospital setting to end- of-life care and massage therapy policy and regulation. A founding director of the Society for Oncology Massage from 2007– 2014 and current executive director and founder of Healwell, Cates works within and beyond the massage therapy community to elevate the level of practice and integration of massage overall and in health care specifically. Cates also is the co-creator of the podcast Massage Therapy Without Borders. Massage therapy can no longer exist solely as a "luxury," available to those with disposable income or who can find a program where massage therapists are serving "the underserved" by working for free.

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