resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
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.
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.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
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.
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.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
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.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
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.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
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.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
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.
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.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
August, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 08
Roberts vs. State Farm Insurance and the Medical Massage Controversy
By Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT
David Luther recently wrote a letter that created quite a stir throughout the massage industry. A class action lawsuit was bought against State Farm Insurance in the state of Pennsylvania titled, Roberts vs.State Farm. Mr. Luther stated that it was his company, the United States Medical Massage Association (USMMA) - formerly the American Medical Massage Therapy Association - that filed the class action suit against State Farm for downcoding. No references to this association are made on the docket or final settlement agreement. The case reads "Tracey Roberts (Plaintiff)" and states, "Tracey Roberts on behalf of herself and others similarly situated v. State Farm." The settlement agreement states that the suit was brought against State Farm for denying payment to massage therapists because they were not physical therapists.
In the letter, Mr. Luther stated that it was he who wrote the lawsuit's declaration at the request of his attorney. According to Luther's letter, his "declaration says that they [State Farm] must pay a 'medical massage therapist.'" His letter further states that when the judge asked him to define the term "medical massage" therapist: "We answered that they would be a Nationally Certified Medical Massage Therapist (NCMMT) through the Medical Massage National Certification Board," and adds, "We tried to add another clause: 'Or a member in good standing with the United States Medical Massage Association (USMMA),'" but that statement "will not be included in the decree."
The settlement agreement contains the words "medical massage therapists" many times throughout. Several concerned parties in the massage community have been writing to the attorneys and judge requesting reconsideration of that language prior to finalization. This situation has created much confusion, fear and anger. It is the opinion of many that if this (or any) case were to be ruled on with inclusion of terminology such as "medical massage" or "medical massage therapist," it would open doors for individuals, organizations or associations to establish specific criteria that massage therapists would have to meet before they could be reimbursed by insurers. This could have a negative impact on the entire profession. Were this to take place and spread throughout the insurance industry, it could severely limit the right to work and seek insurance reimbursement by thousands of massage therapists, some of whom have been receiving reimbursement now for over 20 years.
I know this because I was doing this kind of work approximately 10 years before Mr. Luther came upon the insurance scene. I remember him praising me for my manual. He said that it "helped him to collect the outstanding insurance money owed to him while unable to do massage due to an accident." He even used my "original" manual to get his start with his own medical massage office manual. These are not "opinions," but provable facts.
We are all astounded that Mr. Luther, who oversees the USMMA (a membership association), the Medical Massage National Certification Board (MMNCB), and The Medical Massage Office and Associates (TMMO) (a company through which he offers seminars), is posturing himself to monopolize the entire massage therapy profession by writing his own declaration, trying through the court system to regulate therapists as "certified medical massage therapist[s]," and further requiring that these therapists be certified only through his organizations. It seems he is trying to require insurers to allow only his "certified medical massage therapists" the use of Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Code 97140 or other codes already in our scope of practice.
Such a requirement would be in direct conflict with several states such as Florida and Washington that require insurers to reimburse massage therapists for procedures that are within their scope of practice. It would also be in conflict with the 2005 AMA CPT® code book, which clearly states in the introduction, "Any procedure or service in any section of this book may be used to designate the services rendered by any qualified physician or other qualified health care professional." Licensing, state and national certification and training have already qualified us.
Now, about downcoding: What is it? Downcoding is when an insurer/adjuster changes a code to one of a lesser value or cost and reimburses for that code instead of the originally billed code. In all of my years of investigating bills and denials for massage therapists, insurance auditing companies, and defense and plaintiff attorneys, it has been my experience that the insurance company does not make a habit of downcoding, but actually reimburses for the code that reflected the prescribed and/or documented procedure or modality. For example, a physician writes a prescription for massage therapy but the therapist bills for myofascial release, neuromuscular re-education or others not designated on the prescription. The insurance company paid for what was only prescribed, leaving the therapist to feel that the claim had been "downcoded."
As a side note, I personally have no problem with those who use the term "medical massage" for certifying their courses and their offices or businesses, or to indicate that they specialize in working with doctors or medical referrals. What I object to are those who (without shared or documented proof) tell us that we must be certified in anything as a requirement to be reimbursed by insurance, or suggest that doctors are going to be required to refer only to "Medical Massage Therapists." Insurance companies reimburse for medically necessary care and treatment. What constitutes "medically necessary" is a medical diagnosis by a physician. What constitutes medical massage is the fact that the massage services are provided according to a prescription written with stated diagnosis by the treating physician.
If you believe I have overstepped my bounds, please forgive me. It is in the name of protection of our massage therapy profession, a profession in which we have all worked long and hard to build a positive reputation. If by some chance we are all misinformed, it is due to the letter and statements written by David Luther.
Click here for more information about Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT.
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