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Peer Points: Stories of Practice Success
When patients go see Arizona-based acupuncturist Jing Liu, it is to get top care from an practitioner well versed in all aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The Spirits of the Points: The Gall Bladder Official
The Gall Bladder is known as The Official of Decision Making and Judgment. In any given day, this Official makes countless decisions – conscious and unconscious, which influence every aspect of our being.
Some Thoughts on the TMJ
The temporomandibular joint is an interesting and dynamic articulation that can cause a lot of problems.
Happenings in Our Evolving Profession
Good things seem to be happening for our profession and recent developments show we are all on board. Talking about being on board, this September The Veterans Express-Purple Heart Tour is expected to make its way out of the station.
Going Shoeless: The Pros & Cons of Barefoot Running
With the subculture of barefoot runners and the products catering to them growing daily, just about every chiropractor has been asked at one point or another about their opinion regarding barefoot running.
The Potter's Wheel: Reflections on Practicing in a Technology-Driven World
In my very early years of practice, an older patient named Cora would call me at home, usually late Sunday night after she had consumed an unknown quantity of beer.
Research Abstracts From the Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics
Effect of Pain Relief on Lumbar Muscle Function and Activation; Effects of Thrust Amplitude and Duration of HVLA Spinal Manipulation; Immediate Effects of Upper Thoracic Manipulation on Cardiovascular Response.
You are What You Eat Part II: Integrative Protocols
In the previous installment of this article I discussed important ideas concerning gastrointestinal health and foundational ideas from TCM, which can provide key insights into creating effective protocols for healing the gut.
What the Science Says About Magnesium Stearate
It's often been said that scientific studies can be used to support just about anything. But discoveries are never made one study at a time.
Correcting Kid Logic in Health Care and Research Design
A recent broadcast on public radio described a fascinating phenomenon known as kid logic.
Herbal Medicine: Go Mainstream
When it comes to practicing herbal medicine in a mainstream setting, there are a number of important points to understand when it comes to prescribing formulas. Some important questions to ask are - what method of prescribing and dispensing is most effective in this setting?
Medicine Presents: A Great Opportunity
The changing nature of health care presents both opportunities and challenges. While we tend to focus on our profession, we can sometimes forget the impact other health care professions can have on us.
There Are No Secrets: Treating Complicated Conditions with TCM
Including standardized extra points, there are just over 400 acupuncture points on the body. You get 400 and I get 400 - same. Yet, time and time again treatment protocols are coveted as if they were some secret formula only intended for the right and privileged.
Helping Patients Through Pregnancy Loss
There is a lot of focus in the acupuncture world on fertility and helping women get pregnant. It's exhilarating to hear the news that a patient is expecting a baby. The other side of that is pregnancy loss. That includes abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth.
Remembering Joe Weider (1920-2013)
With the death of Joe Weider, the world's most famous body-building visionary, crusader, fitness magazine publisher and icon, on March 23, 2013, chiropractic has lost one of its greatest friends and supporters.
Chiropractic: The Right Choice for Relieving LBP
"Low back pain (LBP) is a common threat to medicine and a reasonable threat to all national health care systems. ... Reducing ineffective treatments is necessary to decrease the LBP associated costs."
We Get Letters & E-Mail
Patient Perception and the Farce of "Fast Relief"; A Fly in the Ointment; Persecuted for Choosing to Practice Chiropractic.
Helping Infertility Patients with the Spirit Essence
As many of you know, when it comes to treating infertility, we are dealing with a patient population that is, generally speaking, in emotional turmoil. These patients often experience fear, anxiety, despair, hopelessness, grief and anger.
SOAP Notes: It's Time for a Cleaning
I have been planning for some time to write an article about how traditional SOAP notes do not fit chiropractic practice, and the unfairness of holding DCs to a model clearly created for and primarily applicable to medical physicians.
Why You Should Get to Know the National Vaccine Information Center
Barbara Loe Fisher has been a diligent advocate for providing parents with the information necessary to make informed decisions regarding the usage of vaccinations for their children.
Let's face it – patient evaluation takes time. Unless you are really into the diagnostic evaluation game, you probably have found the formal exam protocol tedious if not downright annoying.
Economics of Complementary/Integrative Care
Although this column doesn't usually feature a book review, we're going outside of our usual public health format to discuss a new book written by Patricia Herman ND, PhD.
Have a Heart: Say No to Soda
It's not enough that soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked to cavities and weight gain, among other negative health consequences.
Energy is a hot commodity. Society pays dearly for it and for the expertise of those who know how to cultivate it.
A Building Block of Healthy Aging
Coenzyme Q10 has gained enormous attention in recent years, and with good reason —it's the Energizer Bunny of the cellular world.
Side Effects From Big Pharma: Wellbutrin – Dangerous for You and Your Baby
Are some of your pregnant patients taking Wellbutrin? If so, it could be a danger to them and their baby. This drug is extremely popular, but it has a serious history.
Are They Finally Fixing Medicare Reimbursement?
Even with federal sequestration cuts taking effect in March, including a 2 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursement to health care providers, hope may be on the horizon in the form of a much-anticipated, perpetually suggested overhaul of Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate formula, which serves as the basis for determining physician reimbursement.
News in Brief
Controversial Florida PIP Law Under Review; D'Youville Chiro. Students Learning Art of Co-Managing; And the Award Goes To...; F4CP Recognizes Major Contribution by ChiroTouch.
May, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 05
Washington State Massage Therapists Win Again
Regence BlueShield Agrees to $30 Million Settlement
By Editorial Staff
In 1995, Washington state showed its progressiveness in health care matters with the passage of an "alternative provider" statute (House Bill 1034), which required insurers to cover services provided by all of the state's licensed categories of health care providers, including: massage therapists; chiropractors; medical doctors; acupuncturists; naturopaths; physicians' assistants; registered nurses; and podiatrists.
Not surprisingly, days before the Jan.1, 1996 enactment of the bill, a dozen of the state's largest health insurers challenged the law in the courts. The outcome of the legal maneuvering was that in the spring of 1997, a federal judge in Tacoma declared that the bill conflicted with federal (ERISA) law barring state regulation of employer benefit plans.
During this litigious period, Regence BlueShield determined that the statute applied only to managed care plans, or those plans in which patients were required to go through a primary care physician for a referral to receive specialized treatment. Regence reportedly only allowed "managed care" patients to choose a naturopath as their primary care provider; this left most Regence subscribers, specifically those on the "indemnity" plans, out in the cold. Regence's strategy excluded alternative providers on approximately two-thirds of its plans, while offering limited coverage to the remaining one-third.
In June 1998, however, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overruled the Tacoma decision and reinstated the law. The court ruled that federal law did not prevent a state from expanding health coverage to its residents. The court recognized that HB 1034 met the traditional tests for insurance matters and therefore fell within the state's jurisdiction.1
The Seattle law firm of Sirianni & Youtz was granted permission by the Ninth Circuit Court to present arguments in support of the state's position, and to uphold the laws on behalf of the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the Washington State Chiropractic Association in urging that the law be held valid and enforceable. Regence continued its policy of excluding and limiting alternative care.
Represented by Sirianni & Youtz, Dale Snow became the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit in federal court against Regence. Claiming that Regence ignored the "every category" law, the suit charged Regence to reimburse its subscribers for the out-of-pocket expenses they incurred when receiving treatment from alternative providers.
This action was brought under ERISA, a federal law that governs health plans issued to employees by private employers. Snow and other Regence subscribers (now members of the class-action lawsuit) alleged that Regence failed to comply with the "every category of provider" law with respect to health plans governed by ERISA.
On February 22, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the insurance industry, rejecting their attempts to have the law overturned. The justices also let stand the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court.2
During that same year, Regence moved to dismiss the Snow et al. lawsuit as frivolous. Judge William Dwyer denied the motion, certified the lawsuit as a class action suit, and asked the Washington Supreme Court to decide whether the every category law required Regence to provide access to alternative providers on all its health care plans. Sirianni & Youtz argued before the Washington Supreme Court that the law requires Regence to provide coverage on all its plans.
The next attack on House Bill 1034 was issued in November of 1999 when Regence BlueShield accused the state's insurance commissioner, Deborah Senn, of interpreting the law too broadly. In their suit, Regence argued that the law should apply only to managed care plans in which a patient's health coverage is managed by a "gatekeeper," and that it should not apply to traditional insurance plans.3
The court unanimously rejected Regence's claims.The court decreed that the insurance commissioner's interpretation of the statute was "consistent with the legislature's intent" and pertained to managed care plans and all health care insurance plans offered by health care insurers. The court added that "every health plan offered by Regence (with the exception of basic health model plans)" is subject to the regulations contained within the alternative provider law.
In a unanimous January 2000 decision, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in favor of Dale Snow et al. The court said that the every category law applied to managed and nonmanaged care plans alike.
Sirianni & Youtz then filed another class-action suit, Steven Holman v. Regence BlueShield, to pick up non-ERISA policies (for example, policies governed by state law, such as individual policies). A state court judge certified the case as a class action, and ruled that Regence must allow access to every category of provider on its state-law-governed policies. With this order, the federal and state actions were brought into alignment on the issue.
Effective March 1, 2000, Regence changed its policies and allowed its subscribers access to massage therapists and other alternative care providers as the Washington State Supreme Court ordered, but denied that it had any obligation to reimburse the class-action litigants for care received before March 1, 2000.
In July, Federal District Court Judge Marsha Pechman ruled in favor of the class members, finding Regence liable for past benefits wrongfully withheld from their subscribers since 1996 for care the subscribers received from massage therapists, chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists and nutritionists. The amount of damages, and the method by which the class-action litigants will be reimbursed, had yet to be determined by the court.
In November, the parties agreed to mediate the damage issue before Judge George Finkle, a retired judge who provides professional mediation services. The parties could not agree on a lump sum of money Regence should pay, but they did agree on a process to determine that amount. An agreement was reached whereby the state and federal class-action suits were combined. An arbitrator, assisted by a PhD health economist, set the amount of damages Regence must pay. The class-action litigants and Regence presented evidence and testimony before the arbitrator and health economist in a contested arbitration trial.
On February 9, 2001, arbitrator Thomas Brewer awarded $30,400,000 to the combined state and federal class-action litigants for out-of-pocket expenses incurred by Regence subscribers for alternative care between January 1996 and February 2000.
In March, Sirianni & Youtz and Regence's attorneys asked the federal and state courts to approve and confirm the $30,400,000 award and approve a claims process.
Sirianni & Youtz has brought these and other class-action lawsuits designed to enforce the requirements of the "every category" law, and to recover damages for those people who have had to pay out-of-pocket for their alternative providers.
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