resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
Kansas Achieves Licensing Law
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2615 into law on Friday, May 13, 2016. HB2615 includes provisions for the licensure of acupuncturists in the state of Kansas.
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
An MD Who Understands the Opioid Epidemic
Doctors of chiropractic have an important role to play in ending the opioid epidemic and dealing with chronic pain by conservative means (see our top story in this issue) – but who's to blame for opioid dependence and abuse in the first place?
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
Introducing the Acupuncture Today Digital Edition
In response to the changing habits of our readers, Acupuncture Today will introduce a digital edition of the publication (in addition to our print edition) beginning with the August 2016 issue.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
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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