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Not All Evidence Is Equal; An Abundance of Misinformation; A Well-Researched Decision; Far Too Dangerous.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
Are Your Work Orders in Order?
There are times when a patient's occupational duties will delay or prevent them from recovering. These circumstances create the need for the doctor to recommend modified duty or remove the patient from work.
The Wisdom of the Second Office Location (SOL)
There are some things I never want to do again, like riding a motorcycle 100 mph. I call these things my "negative bucket list." Other things I have on that list include water skiing, riding a roller coaster and eating habanero peppers.
Love a Nurse – and They'll Love You Back
According to various sources, there are about 3 million registered nurses in the U.S., and according to the American Nurses Association, they are under serious pressure in today's health care reality.
A Dream Come True for Chiropractic: Funding Prevention and Public Health
Back in 2005, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said: "Let's face it, in America today we don't have a health care system, we have a sick care system.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Image Is Everything: The Power of Branding
Successful businesses use color and design to attract people to their service. They understand how important image is and hire experts to create an attractive package. Starbucks works hard to create an atmosphere that is warm and inviting.
Billing for Same-Visit Extraspinal and Spinal Manipulation
Q: I have always been under the premise that when billing 98943, extraspinal chiropractic manipulation, on the same visit as spinal manipulation, 98940-98942, that the extraspinal manipulation requires modifier 51.
Women's Health: Herbal Formulas to Help Patients With Dysmenorrhea
Chiropractors have long treated women for menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea). Since roughly 60 percent of all chiropractic patients are women and 30-50 percent of women have a history of menstrual cramps, the vast majority of doctors of chiropractic will inevitably see patients with dysmenorrhea.
State by State: Comparing Chiropractic Scope of Practice
"The issue of 'scope of practice' has been a bugaboo ever since our early quests for legal recognition for chiropractic," according to Dr. Claire Johnson, editor in chief of JMPT and National's other two chiropractic journals.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
Is the EHR Ship Setting Sail Without Us?
The numbers are in: As of July 2014, 10,253 doctors of chiropractic have received $123,059,868 in EHR stimulus funds – and yet that represents less than 15 percent of our profession.
Overcoming Barriers to Exercise Compliance
One of the most common questions other practitioners ask me is, "How do I get patients to do their exercises?" I am not frustrated by my patient compliance, as many doctors are; in fact, I am actually happy with my patients' involvement and commitment.
The Art of Day-to-Day Assessment and Treatment: Clinical Pearls
Let's focus on the day-to-day process of assessing and treating the patient. I am proposing a particular attitude; a way of looking at the patient. This often evolves over a few treatments and then changes as you figure out what is significant.
Defending With Vitamin D: Helps Prevent Progression to Diabetes
A 2014 clinical trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides additional evidence that optimal vitamin D nutritional status may be important in preventing the progression of prediabetes to diabetes in prediabetic adults.
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
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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