resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Vitamin D Fails to Help Knee OA? The Proper Perspective
The March 8, 2016 issue of JAMA includes a study about vitamin D supplementation for osteoarthritis of the knee. This is a really weird study.
How to Find and Fix TL Nerve Impingements
The thoracolumbar junction (TLJ) and the peripheral sensory nerves that exit from it are frequent, important and rarely recognized sources of lower back, pelvic and hip pain. Let's outline a clear exam protocol for diagnosing the problem.
Health and Wellness Partnership
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Wellness Center at the LAC + USC Historic General Hospital recently joined forces to extend care to the residents of Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
The Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
Musculoskeletal Disorders Take Center Stage
Looking for the latest on the musculoskeletal pain epidemic and the increasing premium placed on preventive strategies including chiropractic? Check out The Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans – Opportunities for Action.
Transparency is Key at ASA First Annual Meeting
On March 4th and 5th the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) held a successful first annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Power of Eccentric Exercise: Hamstring Injury Prevention and Rehab
For almost 20 years, I've worked with professional athletes who make a living by running really fast. It goes without saying that hamstring injury (HSI) prevention and rehabilitation is a big part of what they expect from a sports chiropractor.
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
Essentials of Assessment: The Squat
The squat is a simple, fast and functional tool to evaluate patient symmetry and function. As simple and easy as it is to implement, it can yield considerable amounts of valuable, clinically relevant information.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
Recording and Appropriate Billing of Timed Physical Medicine Services
There is a common misunderstanding about timed therapy services and although you do have some knowledge of timed service documentation, based on your comment on the 8-minute rule, your understanding is correct, but incomplete.
Roots in the Community, Branches Far Beyond
The Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine (JTS) was founded in 1998 by Sean Christian Marshall in Sugar Grove, North Carolina, a small community near Boone in the state's westernmost mountains.
News in Brief
A Moment of Silence for Dr. Stephen Press; New ACA President Elected; F4CP Offers New MemBership Benefit.
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
Business Lesson #1: Adapt or Else
My wife and I recently enjoyed an excellent meal at a restaurant recommended by some friends. We often have concerns about restaurant recommendations, as many have been disappointing.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
Energy: For Life and For Death
Energy is a deep topic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is understood to underlie all of existence, animated or not, and the qi of the living is studied with special attention.
The IME System: A Current Public Health Risk and Solutions That Are Working
I strongly believe in the independent medical examination (IME) system. There are far too many doctors in every profession who are not following E&M protocols and never claim MMI (maximum medical improvement) has occurred for their patients, which has caused financial stress for many private and public carriers.
November, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 11
By Ed Denning, MEd, LMT
CPT means Current Procedural Terminology. Massage therapists may not use any CPT codes from any area of the American Medical Association (AMA) CPT code manual outside of the physical medicine and rehabilitation pages.The CPT codes massage therapists can use without question are: 97010 - hot and cold packs; 97124 - massage; and 97140 - manual therapy. In my opinion, any other code is questionable and should be avoided unless the user has certifications that have specified the CPT code that represents the procedure they are training you to use.
Codes 97124 and 97140 should not be used to bill for activities within the same session. Most of us could not distinguish when our therapist transitioned between the techniques used in 97124 to the techniques used in 97140 and vice versa. 97001 and 97002 are for physical therapy evaluation; these codes are for physical therapists and should not be used by massage therapists. Their use implies that the user is a physical therapist. 97112 is not the code for neuromuscular therapy; use 97140 instead.
The codes may change from year to year. If you are going to be a user, you will need a yearly updating service to be sure you are current on the CPT codes available for your use.
Distinct Procedural Service
CPT Code Modifier - 59. The purpose of CPT code modifiers is to clarify the activity and intent of the therapist. An example would be modifier -59. This modifier is used to report Distinct Procedural Service. The following example will help clarify its proper use:
A client schedules an appointment for therapy of carpal tunnel symptoms in both wrists and hands. The therapist has confirmed with the insurance company that it will pay for their services. An hour session is scheduled. The work on the right arm and hand turns out to be very slow and detailed, requiring much more time than planned. The session ends with no work having been done on the left arm and hand. An appointment has canceled that same afternoon and the client is willing to return for work on the left side. This would be a new, separate appointment. The work on this arm is completed in an hour with good results.
If the therapist bills 97140 for both appointments with the same ICD code, it will look like double billing. To explain the apparent discrepancy the therapist would code the first session as 97140 and the second session with 97140-59.
Note that the use of the -59 modifier identifies two procedures of similar nature performed on the same individual within a single day or a few days. Using -59 modifier may raise flags with an insurance company and delay payment.
CPT Code Modifier - 52. CPT modifier -52 is for reduced services. Like -59, it is used to help explain what has taken place with one client. Its purpose is to identify and clarify the activities of the therapist. An example will help make its use clear:
The fee for the reduced service unit would be reduced also.
This code is being misused to justify differences between the fees for cash clients and insurance clients. That misuse is the result of a misunderstanding regarding the intent and purpose of the modifier. It is used to explain the time differential between two units of therapy, one of which is shorter than the other. In this case: one client, one two-unit session. The -52 modifier has nothing to do with the difference between the costs incurred with a cash client compared to an insurance client.
Unusual Procedural Services
CPT Code Modifier - 22. This code does not apply to any of the CPT codes massage therapists can use. It is intended for use with diagnostic and evaluation CPT codes, or very specific medical procedure codes. It is designed to report when the usual time period for that procedure is extended due to extenuating circumstances. This modifier will require a report to justify the additional time. Like modifiers -59 and -52, its application is to a single client and a single session.
Using modifiers to justify increased fees to insurance companies is a misuse of those codes and damages our relationships with the medical community and insurance companies. The use of CPT modifiers by massage therapists is seldom appropriate or necessary. The vast majority of us would keep to a schedule of full units, in which the use of modifiers would be for very unusual circumstances only.
Who do you charge the higher fee: A teacher, business executive, factory worker, or sales clerk?
The answer, of course, is that they all should be charged the same fee for the same service. Can you make exceptions? Sure! If I want to give a discount to teachers, I can. All fees charged need to be in a published list available to all clients. If all clients are to be treated the same, what about insurance clients? There are additional expenses involved in dealing with insurance. Unfortunately, there are no administrative or office codes available to massage therapists which we can use to pass on those costs.
A legitimate manner in which to charge a higher fee for your therapeutic services is to have a fee schedule posted that clearly indicates that therapeutic work is billed at a higher rate due to the increased skill level and attention to business details (paperwork). In that case, both the prescribed and non-prescribed therapeutic work would be billed at the same rate. Non-prescribed/non-therapeutic work could have a lower fee.
The difference between the costs of therapeutic-prescribed massage and non-therapeutic massage should not be 100 percent. We are not physicians. A 20 percent difference would be an acceptable and professional differential. The codes that will more accurately represent our services will be forthcoming; we need to practice restraint and patience for now.
An Insurance Company's Response to Coding Abuse
A major insurance carrier in Colorado has restricted all claims by massage therapists to CPT code 97124 and has set a maximum fee that it will pay. The company did this in response to the use of 95 different CPT codes by Colorado massage therapists, for which the therapists charged fees of up to $350 per hour.
Those who abused the system have been punished; however, every massage therapist who must work with that company has also been punished. Some of our colleagues abuse the medical payment system for the short-term gain. In the long term, they damage the massage industry and do harm to the majority of massage therapists who do not allow personal gain to interfere with ethical judgment.
I encourage all massage therapists to join a professional association and to lobby the leadership of their association to take action to educate its members about the legal and ethical responsibilities of coding and billing. It is time for the associations to stand up and protect their membership from the abusive billing strategies being taught at seminars all across the U.S.
Ed Denning is a licensed massage therapist in Ohio. He is coordinator of the massage therapy program at Stark State College of Technology, and also serves on the Massage Therapy Advisory Committee of the Ohio State Medical Board.
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