resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
News in Brief
A Moment of Silence for Dr. Stephen Press; New ACA President Elected; F4CP Offers New MemBership Benefit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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