resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
September, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 09
Massage Therapy Insurer Pleads Guilty to Fraud
By Kathryn Feather, Senior Associate Editor
Bret T. Van Leeuwen, 52, the former president and founder of Stratus Insurance Services, Inc., pled guilty in June to one count of insurance fraud in the second degree. He agreed to pay up to $995,000 in civil penalties.
Three associations listed as victims in Van Leeuwen's plea include the now defunct IMA Group, the Hands-On Trade Association and the International Association of Reike Professionals. Massage Today readers might remember that Van Leeuwen and Stratus Insurance were linked in the financial demise of the International Massage Association and had accused owner and founder Will Green of owing Stratus "close to seven figures" and offered that as the reason Stratus dropped coverage of the IMA. However, Green claimed that Stratus had failed to properly acquire policies in several of the years since 2004, and alluded to an FBI investigation in a letter to IMA members in July of 2010. As reported in Massage Today in August of 2010, Van Leeuwen strongly denied Green's claims.
The Hands-On Trade Association (HOTA) became aware there was a problem with Stratus and Van Leeuwen in May 2010, when the case became public. Directed by Judi Calvert, co-founder of Massage Magazine, the HOTA formally terminated their relationship with Stratus and Bret Van Leeuwen in January 2011. According to Calvert, "it took time to transition to our new risk purchasing group, the Wellness and Beauty Association Risk Purchasing Group."
"Numerous issues with the company led us to start seeking a new risk purchasing group in May of 2010," said Calvert. "We are still in the process of determining the consequences. As owner of HOTA, I have given years of service to this wonderful industry, and it's important that our members know they can continue to trust us as their benefits provider. Our focus remains on serving our membership and the industry." As part of this new Wellness and Beauty Association Risk Purchasing Group, the HOTA is now with Western States Insurance.
Investigation Background And Timeline
In his Statement of Offense filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on June 20, 2011, Van Leeuwen acknowledged he was the founder, president and majority owner of Stratus Insurance Services, which focused on specialty insurance programs provided to associations and purchasing groups. The three associations offered their members insurance coverage through a non-profit entity known as the Health and Beauty Risk Purchasing Group (HBRPG), which Will Green of the IMA was also involved in starting.
Van Leeuwen's partner in providing these policies was Rodney R. Ayer, former president of Phoenix Underwriting Managers Inc. According to prosecutors, Ayer pleaded guilty in July 2010 to one count of insurance fraud in connection with fraudulent statements in a 2006 application to operate as a captive insurance company in Washington, D.C. Ayer agreed to pay $500,000 in penalties and set aside an additional $495,000 in an escrow account to cover any outstanding claims for the policy periods covered by the criminal charges, which cover September 2004 through May 2006.
Mark Maxson, Senior Vice President at Willis Re, and an insurance industry expert, said the escrow fund might not be sufficient if major claims are filed for that time frame, "in this case, $500,000 to cover all claims for a portfolio of exposure--particularly when the portfolio consists of 15,000 policies. Even one policy limits claim would wipe out the fund and leave all the other insureds unportected."
"We became aware of the Ayer case in July 2010 through Massage Today," said Calvert. "Prior to that, we didn't know that we were named in the Ayer case."
Van Leeuwen admitted that he and Ayer intended to insure the members of the HBRPG which included the IMA and the HOTA, as well as the approximately 27,000 members of the Federal Employee Professional Liability Insurance Program, with insurance carriers known as "cells" which would be established through multi-national insurance carrier, Hannover Rueckverisherung AG (Hannover Re). Van Leeuwen and Ayer planned to co-own the cells, which would be associated with Hannover Re, and supervise the administration of the HBRPG, as well as the Federal group. Based on their knowledge of the claims histories for both groups, Ayer and Van Leeuwen expected substantial underwriting profits from owning and operating these programs. However, both men did not reveal their ownership of the cells to the associations participating in the HBRPG.
Van Leeuwen and Ayer did pay the claims associated with these programs and they did retain the underwriting profits associated with these groups. However, there was just one problem with this arrangement; Hannover Re backed out of its coverage of the programs in December 2005. Despite Ayer and Van Leeuwen being unable to obtain approval from Hannover Re to operate the cells, the men led the associations and insurance regulatory agencies to believe that Hannover Re had approved the cells to insure the Federal program and the HBRPG.
According to court records, while continuing to pay claims and receiving substantial premium payments from members of both groups based on representations that Hannover Re was insuring those programs, Van Leeuwen and Ayer filed an application with the District of Columbia's Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking in April 2006, seeking approval for a District of Columbia Certificate of Authority allowing Defense Shield Insurance Co. Inc. (DISC) to operate as a captive. The DISC was intended to succeed the cell Ayer and Van Leeuwen led the associations to believe was being handled by Hannover Re.
Chris Van Leeuwen, brother of Bret Van Leeuwen and current President of Stratus, said the company does continue to provide massage therapy insurance. He said the guilty plea does not impact any of the coverage it currently provides to massage therapists and there was no lapse in coverage for those programs under the Beauty, Health and Trade Alliance Purchasing Group. Stratus Insurance covers approximately ten different groups through the Beauty, Health and Trade Alliance Purchasing Group.
Rodney Ayer has not yet been sentenced. Bret Van Leeuwen is scheduled to be formally sentenced on September 26, 2011. He faces a maximum sentence of 24 months in prison, a fine of $10,000, a three-year term of supervised release and a $250 special assessment for the Crime Victim's Assistance Fund, in addition to his civil penalties of almost $1 million.
In the meantime, the organizations involved are left to pick up the pieces and try to move on. "We're focusing on the future," said Calvert. "We feel that our decision to go with another risk purchasing group best serves our members needs."
It remains unclear what the status of coverage is for those insured through any of these groups in the years 2006-2010.
However, it looks as though this case isn't over just yet. Bill Miller from the U.S. Attorney's Office would only say that "we typically do not comment on cases that are still active. Because the case is pending and remains under investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office is unable to comment at this time beyond relying on the public record of what is said or submitted in court."
Massage Today will continue to monitor this case as the U.S. Attorney's Office investigation continues.
Editor's Note: As this issue of Massage Today was going to press, MPA Media received a letter from attorneys representing a massage therapy insurer that has had a relationship with Stratus Insurance, but which was not mentioned or included in the 2004-06 insurance fraud case. On August 2, 2011, Eric Hearn, a lawyer representing The Doyle Group, owners of Massage Magazine and Massage Magazine Insurance Plus (MMIP), stated that "Doyle has terminated its contractual relationship with Stratus." The letter warned of legal action should this story "implicate Doyle in the affairs that culminated in Bret Van Leeuwen's current legal issues." At the time the letter was sent, Massage Today had made no contact with The Doyle Group. Massage Today then contacted The Doyle Group to ask when and why the relationship with Stratus Insurance Services was officially terminated but received no response.
A publicly available May 16, 2010 record (approximately two months before Ayer's guilty plea) of the MMIP website contains this language: "MMIP is offered in conjunction with Stratus Insurance Services, Inc. American Fork, Utah. Coverage under the MMIP program is underwritten by certain underwriters at Lloyds, London, an A rated carrier." A screenshot of the same website taken on July 25, 2011, has language stating that "MMIP is offered in conjunction with the Beauty, Health, and Trade Alliance Purchasing Group, domiciled in IL and Stratus Insurance Services". Upon receipt of Hearn's August 2 letter, a review of the MMIP webpage showed that the reference to Stratus was removed, consistent with the attorney's letter stating that contractual relations with Stratus had been terminated. The Lloyds of London reference remained.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.