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News in Brief
Investigating the Cellular Impact of Mechanical Force; National Board Seats (Not-So) New Officers at Annual Meeting.
The Risks I Took
We all take risks when we choose this profession. For some, it is not knowing if you can make a living practicing TCM. For others, it is parental or cultural disapproval.
An International Life: An Interview with Mary Elizabeth Wakefield
I met Mary Elizabeth Wakefield during her class last summer in Seneca Falls, New York at the Finger Lakes School of Chinese Medicine.
Desert: A Metaphor from the Study of Genetics
In most of the human lives I know about, there are stretches of time which feel stagnant, or worse. We can feel adrift, or wounded and sidelined, and these times don't seem to carry much usefulness while they are unfolding.
Nomenclature and Classification of Lumbar Disc Pathology: Version 2.0
The Nomenclature and Classification of Lumbar Disc Pathology consensus, published in 2001 by the collaborative efforts of the North American Spine Society, the American Society of Spine Radiology and the American Society of Neuroradiology, has guided radiologists, clinicians and the public for more than a decade.
Meet Cheyenne: Your Future Colleague
Allow me to introduce you to Cheyenne (Chey), the daughter of some of our family's closest friends. We attend and serve at the same church together, and have known each other for many years.
Q&A With the First VA Chiropractic Residents
As you may have read previously, a major step forward for the profession occurred in July 2014 when the Department of Veterans Affairs began piloting a chiropractic residency program at five locations.
The Three Heater Official
This Official, belonging to the element Fire, is responsible for maintaining and regulating the heating system of the body, mind, and spirit. It is named for its function. The trunk is divided into three "burning spaces" or "jiaos."
The Source-Luo Point Combination, Part 2
The Da Cheng includes symptoms for the source-luo points that indicate when to use them for treatment. Yang defines the method as the guest-host (it is one of a variety of acupuncture point combinations called guest-host).
I was sitting in a Pizza Hut in Peoria, Ill., with my friend Reggie, sometime in the spring of my senior year in college, when he started doodling on his paper placemat. In those days, the company had a picture of U.S. on the mats, showing all the locations of the "Huts" in the country.
Key Changes and Updates to the 7th Edition CNT Manual
Acupuncture Today recently interviewed Jennifer Brett, ND, L.Ac. regarding the updates to the CNT manaul.
Marketing with a Microphone
When given an option, it stands to reason that people prefer to do business with those they know, like, and trust.
NCCAOM Video Contest
The NCCAOM is excited to announce the launch of the second annual video contest "Because it Works!" 2015.
Chinese Doctors Poke Holes in Australian Study
A recent Australian clinical trial, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2014 by Rana Hinman, et el., evaluating the effectiveness of both needle and laser acupuncture for chronic knee pain.
Sports Medicine 101: Surgery or No Surgery?
In the world of sports medicine, many careers are saved by surgeries that correct traumatic damage to the body. Muscle tears, ligament damage, fractures, spinal disc herniations, and joint instabilities are a few of the issues frequently addressed with surgical intervention.
Creating Relationships at Southwest Symposium
The month of May brought many interesting activities. As I have said in many previous columns this year, this profession is moving in a very exciting direction. Make sure you are getting involved. If you're not, you just might get left behind.
Free Yourself From the Pocketbook Practice
Let's take a journey together; there's an important lesson to be learned. Imagine a town or city just like yours.
Going On-Site With Chiropractic Care
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress has released a position paper highlighting the financial, clinical and patient-satisfaction benefits of providing chiropractic care at on-site corporate health clinics.
Treatment of PTSD: An Opportunity for the Practice of Integrated Medicine
PTSD is widespread across America today. Not only do many of our honored men and women in uniform bring it home with them from the war zones they have been active in, but it often follows any life-threatening event people go through when their lives have been in danger.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 3)
A patient with sacroiliac fixation and dysfunction ordinarily demonstrates a noticeable leg-length inequality when placed in the prone position on the adjusting table.
Should You Change an Athlete's Natural Running Form?
Once past the ankle, impact forces travel at about 200 mph into the knee. In addition to allowing the quad to absorb force, bending the knee (E) prevents the hip and pelvis from moving up and down too much (F), which is important for injury prevention and efficiency.
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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