resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Make Every Day Mother's Day
May is a special month for many reasons. After a long, harsh winter, spring is at last in full swing. Memorial Day helps us honor those who have fought and fallen in the name of freedom.
If Your Pro-Chiropractic Governor Resigned, Would You Be Prepared?
John Kitzhaber, MD, recently re-elected to a historic fourth term as Oregon governor, has resigned among alleged ethics violations by his fiancée' and first lady, Cylvia Hayes. I developed a personal friendship with John and consider him a good friend.
Talking to Patients About Medial Branch Neurotomy (Part 2)
Even when lumbar facet denervation (medial branch neurotomy) is successful, relief is rarely complete or permanent. Smuck, et al., reviewed 16 articles and found the average duration of >50 percent pain relief for an initial procedure was nine months.
Functional Impingement of the Hip (Part 2): Rehab Exercises
I find functionally impinged hips that don't move properly on so many of my patients. (See part 1 of this article for a description of the condition.)
Trouble in the Wellness Waters?
Call me old-fashioned, paranoid or just old, but I do remember graduating from chiropractic college in the late '70s in the midst of the Wilk v AMA lawsuit.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Apple Takes a Bite Out of Research
The more than 700 million iPhone users have just been given the opportunity to "do their part to advance medical research."
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
News in Brief
Dr. Frank Nicchi Receives Award at ACC-RAC; Sherman College Expands International Influence.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Applauding a Legacy of Leadership
Founding Palmer West President, John Miller, DC, HCD (Hon.), FICA (Hon.), a 1954 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, passed away March 8, 2015 at age 83.
Teach Your Patients About External Healing Applications
Since the skin is the body's largest organ, and is able to respond to both internal and external stimulations, communicate sensations to the brain, protect the body, breathe and even excrete toxins, it can be an excellent source of healing.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
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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