resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
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.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
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.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
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.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
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.
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.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
January, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 01
"Incident To" Issues
By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB
Are we professional, or not? Should those who choose to practice under the term "massage therapist" have the option of being considered a health care provider? Are we part of a "profession" that can benefit or be harmed by the actions of outside organizations/professions? Can, or should, we politicize the work we do by letting regulators know our opinions?
Your answers to these questions likely will determine your comfort level with this monthly editorial.For the record, I answer all of them affirmatively. I'm hoping enough of you do, too, and will let your feelings be known about something that has insidious downside implications for segments of our profession.
I am speaking about the ruling the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued to prohibit Medicare reimbursement for therapy services provided "incident to" a physician's office visit. As of July 25, Medicare will pay physicians for physical, occupational and speech pathology therapy performed in their office as an incident to service only if it's done by a licensed therapist (or an assistant therapist supervised by a licensed therapist). When CMS uses the term "therapist," they now mean only physical therapists, occupational therapists or speech and language/hearing pathologists. Previously, Medicare paid physicians for incident to therapy services even when other providers, such as massage therapists, athletic trainers or physical therapy aides, performed it. However, Medicare no longer considers physician supervision of these auxiliary providers to be sufficient. Under the new rule, physicians are not permitted to bill Medicare for therapy services performed by athletic trainers, kinesiologists, therapy aides, therapist assistants, massage therapists, or any other non-therapist professionals.
It appears to me that we, and many other professions, were out-lobbied by other groups. The December 2004 issue of PT Magazine had an article entitled, "Physical Therapists Win Change in Medicare 'Incident To' Rules." The PTs of the world seem happy with the law changes. It seems like such a simple thing on the surface - a ruling that says physical therapy must be performed by a physical therapist. That makes sense, doesn't it? I think massage therapy should be performed by a massage therapist, too! As they say, though, the devil is in the details, and the definition of what constitutes "incident to" therapy adversely affects many massage therapists. As you well know, there is a significant difference between the performance of "physical therapy" and the delivery of "physical medicine."
This issue has been on the radar screen for several years, but the "blip" was not a bright one because CMS was reporting that the proposed changes merely were a clarification of existing CMS policy, and it was required by a 1997 statute. A quick Web search brings much information suggesting this hardly was accurate. My own reading indicates a significant change in policy, as opposed to just a clarification.
Massage Today columnist Vivian Madison-Mahoney writes, "I attended the recent press event in Washington, D.C., where Coalition members spoke out and expressed their concerns on how the recent Medicare ruling has affected them. This ruling limits only PTs, OTs and SLPs to provide therapy to physician patients where Medicare is reimbursing for the treatment." She goes on to state, "Doctors everywhere are feeling the sting of this ruling in that they are not allowed to decide what treatment, and who is best to provide it, for their patients. Therapists and other qualified providers who have been allowed to provide treatment 'incident to' physician's services for the past seven years are now out of work across the nation due to this ruling.This includes nearly 1,200 lymphedema therapists who are mainly massage therapists, in addition to thousands of other qualified providers and massage therapists who treat other conditions for the Medicare patient such as musculoskeletal conditions."
So, how did this ruling occur? Was there a great expression of concern from physicians and patients? Apparently not, since many physician groups, including the American Medical Association, joined a coalition to try to stop the ruling! The AMA formally stated, "The AMA urges CMS to withdraw its proposed changes for incident to physical therapy services and re-issue a new proposal in a later proposed rule after consulting with all affected physician and other health professional organizations"
The National Athletic Trainers Association went so far as to file suit to stop the proposed change, but their suit was set aside. There are some 23 different professional groups who have formed The Coalition to Preserve Patient Access to Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services (www.coalitiontopreservepatientaccess.org/).
My concern, and the primary reason I am bringing this to your attention, is not because so many massage therapists get reimbursed by Medicare; they don't. I find this issue important because so much of what happens with Medicare filters down to the private segment. I am very concerned that the commercial insurance carriers will find this an attractive way to limit payment for currently covered services. This increases profits for the three select therapy groups, as well as the insurance carriers, to the detriment of the public and all other care groups who otherwise are qualified to perform the services. It also undermines the patient/physician contract, as neither will be able to choose the best provider for a specific service. Make this a personal issue - see yourself, a parent or another loved one as a Medicare recipient in need of postsurgical lymphedema treatment. Now, decide if you'd rather have the treatment performed by any PT (because it could be reimbursed), or by a massage therapist specifically trained in lymphatic drainage. Medicare patients who seek "therapy-incident to" services from anyone other than a physical therapist, occupational therapist or speech/language pathologist might be denied coverage.
I strongly urge you to visit the Web site listed above and read the links listed under "Coalition Information." Then contact your professional associations to see what they are doing about this. Follow up by getting involved personally, and make calls to your congressional offices and let them know what actions you'd like taken. It's my opinion that CMS should revise its current ill-conceived "incident to" policy and revert to the one that since 2001 has stated that "any individual" can provide therapy services. What do you think?
Thanks for listening!
Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters related to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue or online. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or by regular mail to:
Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.
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