resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 previous articles by Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT.
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