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Some Thoughts on the TMJ
The temporomandibular joint is an interesting and dynamic articulation that can cause a lot of problems.
Remembering Joe Weider (1920-2013)
With the death of Joe Weider, the world's most famous body-building visionary, crusader, fitness magazine publisher and icon, on March 23, 2013, chiropractic has lost one of its greatest friends and supporters.
Why You Should Get to Know the National Vaccine Information Center
Barbara Loe Fisher has been a diligent advocate for providing parents with the information necessary to make informed decisions regarding the usage of vaccinations for their children.
Herbal Medicine: Go Mainstream
When it comes to practicing herbal medicine in a mainstream setting, there are a number of important points to understand when it comes to prescribing formulas. Some important questions to ask are - what method of prescribing and dispensing is most effective in this setting?
Side Effects From Big Pharma: Wellbutrin – Dangerous for You and Your Baby
Are some of your pregnant patients taking Wellbutrin? If so, it could be a danger to them and their baby. This drug is extremely popular, but it has a serious history.
Are They Finally Fixing Medicare Reimbursement?
Even with federal sequestration cuts taking effect in March, including a 2 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursement to health care providers, hope may be on the horizon in the form of a much-anticipated, perpetually suggested overhaul of Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate formula, which serves as the basis for determining physician reimbursement.
Energy is a hot commodity. Society pays dearly for it and for the expertise of those who know how to cultivate it.
Correcting Kid Logic in Health Care and Research Design
A recent broadcast on public radio described a fascinating phenomenon known as kid logic.
Helping Patients Through Pregnancy Loss
There is a lot of focus in the acupuncture world on fertility and helping women get pregnant. It's exhilarating to hear the news that a patient is expecting a baby. The other side of that is pregnancy loss. That includes abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth.
News in Brief
Controversial Florida PIP Law Under Review; D'Youville Chiro. Students Learning Art of Co-Managing; And the Award Goes To...; F4CP Recognizes Major Contribution by ChiroTouch.
Going Shoeless: The Pros & Cons of Barefoot Running
With the subculture of barefoot runners and the products catering to them growing daily, just about every chiropractor has been asked at one point or another about their opinion regarding barefoot running.
Happenings in Our Evolving Profession
Good things seem to be happening for our profession and recent developments show we are all on board. Talking about being on board, this September The Veterans Express-Purple Heart Tour is expected to make its way out of the station.
The Potter's Wheel: Reflections on Practicing in a Technology-Driven World
In my very early years of practice, an older patient named Cora would call me at home, usually late Sunday night after she had consumed an unknown quantity of beer.
The Spirits of the Points: The Gall Bladder Official
The Gall Bladder is known as The Official of Decision Making and Judgment. In any given day, this Official makes countless decisions – conscious and unconscious, which influence every aspect of our being.
There Are No Secrets: Treating Complicated Conditions with TCM
Including standardized extra points, there are just over 400 acupuncture points on the body. You get 400 and I get 400 - same. Yet, time and time again treatment protocols are coveted as if they were some secret formula only intended for the right and privileged.
Research Abstracts From the Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics
Effect of Pain Relief on Lumbar Muscle Function and Activation; Effects of Thrust Amplitude and Duration of HVLA Spinal Manipulation; Immediate Effects of Upper Thoracic Manipulation on Cardiovascular Response.
A Building Block of Healthy Aging
Coenzyme Q10 has gained enormous attention in recent years, and with good reason —it's the Energizer Bunny of the cellular world.
You are What You Eat Part II: Integrative Protocols
In the previous installment of this article I discussed important ideas concerning gastrointestinal health and foundational ideas from TCM, which can provide key insights into creating effective protocols for healing the gut.
We Get Letters & E-Mail
Patient Perception and the Farce of "Fast Relief"; A Fly in the Ointment; Persecuted for Choosing to Practice Chiropractic.
What They Don't Say Could Hurt You
I have written previously regarding the difficulties of drawing information from patients who are poor historians, forgetful or just plain uncooperative. The thought to revisit the topic occurred recently during preparation for an upcoming seminar.
SOAP Notes: It's Time for a Cleaning
I have been planning for some time to write an article about how traditional SOAP notes do not fit chiropractic practice, and the unfairness of holding DCs to a model clearly created for and primarily applicable to medical physicians.
What the Science Says About Magnesium Stearate
It's often been said that scientific studies can be used to support just about anything. But discoveries are never made one study at a time.
Let's face it – patient evaluation takes time. Unless you are really into the diagnostic evaluation game, you probably have found the formal exam protocol tedious if not downright annoying.
Economics of Complementary/Integrative Care
Although this column doesn't usually feature a book review, we're going outside of our usual public health format to discuss a new book written by Patricia Herman ND, PhD.
Peer Points: Stories of Practice Success
When patients go see Arizona-based acupuncturist Jing Liu, it is to get top care from an practitioner well versed in all aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Medicine Presents: A Great Opportunity
The changing nature of health care presents both opportunities and challenges. While we tend to focus on our profession, we can sometimes forget the impact other health care professions can have on us.
Helping Infertility Patients with the Spirit Essence
As many of you know, when it comes to treating infertility, we are dealing with a patient population that is, generally speaking, in emotional turmoil. These patients often experience fear, anxiety, despair, hopelessness, grief and anger.
Have a Heart: Say No to Soda
It's not enough that soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked to cavities and weight gain, among other negative health consequences.
April 17, 2012
The CAMTC Money Grab
By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h)
It is a sad time for the massage therapy profession. A disturbing trend has continued, despite my hopes that the people involved would recognize how unhealthy it is for massage. I'm referring to the decision by the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) board to vote themselves unnecessary travel money so they can attend a convention later this week, all expenses paid.
This money was originally approved for attending a convention as "roving ambassadors" with no real duties or responsibilities. After news of this decision was publicized last week by Massage Today, CAMTC CEO Ahmos Netanel submitted a list of duties board members will now be expected to perform.1
The decision was made on a board conference call on Tuesday, April 10, 2012. Kathryn Feather, Massage Today's Senior Associate Editor, was on the call. While it was not unanimous, the majority of those voting in favor of the measure were the ones who would receive the money.
For the record, this is who voted for and against a motion to take money for unnecessary travel:
Actions Reveal Intent
The vote was to reimburse board members to attend the American Massage Conference (AMC) in San Diego. This was in addition to already receiving free registration and free Gala tickets ($115 total value). This was the second time in the last 6 months that this board has voted to spend money on themselves for a convention.
What was strange is that attached to the board's meeting agenda was a worksheet listing those board members who had already decided to attend the AMC and how much they had already spent for their airfare and hotel registration.
A per diem allowance of $213 ($71 per day) was also included in the worksheet along with mileage reimbursement for those who would be traveling by car. In short, these board members had already decided to go and were making an effort to see if they could get free money from the CAMTC.
Note that these board members are attending in addition to the 6 staff members who will already be present. As a means of comparison, the ABMP, which is the global educational sponsor for the event, will only have four staff members there. And they have to coordinate seminars and speakers, as well as maintain their exhibit booth. The CAMTC will have a total of 14 staff and board members.
Efforts were made to contact these board members, but only four of those who voted for the motion responded; one through the CEO, two via e-mail and another declined to comment as he is not attending the convention. They appeared to be in hiding over their decision.
When Ahmos Netanal, the CAMTC CEO was contacted, he waited to respond until after the first article deadline. His ultimate response can only be described as one of panic. In fact, this is the most confused, poorly rationalized response I have seen in 30 years of journalism. When he finally responded to direct questions regarding the board's actions a few days later, his initial response had to be rescinded as his answers did not have the board's approval.
In an effort to justify the board's decision, the response included statements which were obviously untrue. Here are just a few examples:2,3
In September 2010, the board adopted an expense reimbursement policy that allows for reimbursement for costs related to "Council service" and "Council business." There was specific conversation during the April 10 board meeting that made it clear that the attending board members did not have any particular duties.
Neither the 2010 nor an earlier 2009 policy mentions a cap on how many board members can go or even when they arrive and depart.
Some of the board members are arriving on Thursday, April 19th, when the only event is the golf tournament. The exhibit hall, where the CAMTC has a booth, does not open until 1 p.m. Friday. Had all 20 board members decided to participate in the money grab, the total cost to the CAMTC could have been more than $20,000 for this single event.
Keep in mind that this is the second event where the board has decided to pay themselves. The first was in October 2011, the board okayed reimbursements for travel to the FSMTB convention in Southern California. With several massage events in California every year, it's not a stretch to imagine tens of thousands of dollars going to such expenses, the equivalent of hundreds of certificate fees per year.
Following the Money
The question that quickly comes to mind is: Why approve so many people for travel to an event already being covered by six staffers?
Ahmos Netanal introduced the resolution for reimbursement. As CEO, he currently earns more than $259,000 under a very lucrative contract that we understand is up for review later this year. While I have a hard time justifying over a quarter of a million dollars a year for this position, I have to assume it had something to do with the need to build the CAMTC from the ground up.
But now that they have been up and running since August 2009, the CEO compensation package should be reduced to the $85,000 per year that the chiropractic Board and other similar professional boards pay their executives.
For example, the same position with the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners pays $6,694 to $7,239 per month. The annual difference between these two positions is $173,112, equal to approximately 1,100 more certificate fees per year.
According to Board records (April 2011), "Mr. Netanel's base salary (was decreased) from $16,666.66 per month to $15,833 per month and add an additional $330 per month to his existing benefits allowance (from $3,000 per month to $3,333 per month). In addition, provide Mr. Netanel with $1,666 per month toward dependent benefits, and $833 per month (for 12 months only) toward his home office expenses. Total annual compensation package would increase from $236,000 to $259,980."
One would think that if the CAMTC is so drunk with money that, at the very least, they would reduce the amount they charge therapists for registration. I would actually prefer to see them just make better use of the money.
With three years under their belt, one would think that the board would decrease Netanal's compensation instead of increasing it by $2,000 per month. Given the recent reimbursement decision one has to wonder what their motive is. Is the liberal travel reimbursement for unnecessary travel part of a quid pro quo? It is not hard to see that if each of them collects a few thousand dollars a year, that they would be more than willing to let him have his quarter million. It will be easy to see if this is correct, just watch and see what the board does when the contract renewal comes up. If they don't severely reduce the compensation package, then their votes were bought and paid for.
The End of the CAMTC
The CAMTC is a nonprofit corporation operating under strict laws. It is also unique in that it is not directly under the state of California like most professional boards, at least not right now. The CAMTC is an experiment to see if the profession can manage itself without heavy-handed oversight by the state. The experiment may come to a close at the end of 2014 when the CAMTC is set to sunset unless it is renewed.
The current self dealing by the board and overpayment of Netanal puts the future of the CAMTC in jeopardy. With their current actions now public, it is not unreasonable to think that enemies of the massage therapy profession will be contacting their state legislators asking them to take action against the board. And our legislative friends may be embarrassed and hard-pressed to defend us particularly when the board comes up for renewal.
So why risk the future of the CAMTC by overpaying Netanal and allowing the board to take money to go places they were scheduled to go anyway?
What You Can Do
This issue is not something I ever expected to see in massage therapy. It seems counter to our culture. Having exposed this type of behavior in the chiropractic profession,4 I can tell you it is incredibly embarrassing for the profession and damaging to its reputation. It has a lasting impact that is not easily forgotten.
While you can't vote to elect or replace the board members, you do have a voice. You can encourage the board members to stop lining their pockets with travel money and reduce the CEO compensation to a level that will not anger the California legislature when it votes on the fate of the CAMTC in the next two years.
We have established a web page (www.massagetoday.com/moneygrab) where you can write an e-mail and, with one click, send it to the board members and Mr. Netanal. The hope is that they will see the importance of doing the right thing and make the necessary changes.
Please understand that I still have faith in this board. I know some of the people on it and believe that those who voted for the motion have been mislead in their decision to take money from the certificate holders. And while it may appear that we are "attacking" the CAMTC board or have some sort of axe to grind, the truth is that Massage Today has strongly supported the organization since its inception, most notably in the bruising fight over AB1822.
If they will make the changes necessary, the CAMTC can live on to do great things for our profession. If not, they will sunset in two years, ending the money grab. Rest assured that the legislature will receive an analysis from our enemies that will compare how this Board operates verses how they would be required to operate under State oversight. It is easy to see the legislators alienated by self dealing and by a CEO compensation package that is more than two and half times their pay.
Less than six months ago, Massage Today recognized the CAMTC for their investigation into human trafficking.5 How sad that this same board could themselves come under investigation for self dealing. Last year MT named the CAMTC Board the "2011 Heroes of the Profession." How heroic will they be if their desire for a few thousand dollars a year is one of the reasons the California legislature decides that we can no longer oversee our own certification. With millions of dollar at stake, the future of the CAMTC will get plenty of attention.
Please, take a few moments and make your voice heard. This is not just a California issue. This will impact the entire profession nationally: www.massagetoday.com/moneygrab.
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