resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
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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