resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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