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Massage Today
August, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 08

FL PIP Case: Where We Are Now and Where We Are Going

By Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT

You carry automobile insurance, don't you? You expect it to pay your accidental medical bills, don't you? Sure, we all expect our insurance policies to pay what they are supposed to pay. We also know that more and more they are finding ways to not provide payment for one reason or another.

However, we never, ever expect a state governor to control our medical treatment, do we? We never expect a state Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) to stand up for insurance companies, the very ones they are there to regulate, all the while totally fighting AGAINST the consumer instead of FOR the consumer. We never thought a few short years ago as we were climbing the ladder in the medical arena, that we would be fighting so hard now to save our reputation and income making opportunities.

Strike 1: Massage Therapists Excluded from Medicare

Do you recall when massage therapists were allowed to perform massage therapy on Medicare patients in a doctors office and the doctor could bill Medicare and pay massage therapists as independent contractors or employees? But, then Medicare changed their "incident to" physician services rules. That left massage therapists, hundreds of them across the nation, without a job in doctors offices, hospitals and other medical settings. Medicare recipients were left without medically necessary and prescribed therapy.

Strike 2: Massage Therapists Excluded from Developmentally Disabled

Then, 118 LMTs in Florida lost their jobs and hundreds of developmentally disabled vulnerable recipients were left to sit daily in wheelchairs, left without therapy that helped their circulation and flexibility.

Strike 3: Therapists and Massage Therapy Excluded from FL Auto PIP

Well, you most likely heard by now (if you have been reading Massage Today) or been involved with FL LMT's, that Governor Rick Scott accused massage therapists of insurance fraud. Rick Scott who himself was accused of the largest Medicare Fraud in history with the hospitals he owned (HCA). Google Rick Scott or Dick Scott & HCA for the complete history including a whistle blowers report.

Was there fraud? Is there ongoing fraud? Will there always be fraud? Were massage therapists along with other health care providers involved in some fraudulent cases? YES to all. However, there are built in statutes to handle fraudulent insurance claims. There are reports of millions of dollars lost to fraud in Medicare each year, but they don't kick all the doctors out of the right to treat patients and file claims because of a few who committed fraud. But a massage therapist? YES, we, who work by a written physician's prescription, we, who normally charge the lower end of the fee scale, we, who put more time and effort in to patient treatment, care and concern, we are the ones kicked to the curb. Hundreds of Florida massage therapists claim they have lost their jobs, lost their hope, are unable to pay student loans and so forth since this PIP law went into place by Governor Scott on May 4, 2012.

Well, I personally decided to not take a back seat to this unfair, discriminating law against us. Will you stand up with me and our attorneys and help us fight this before they continue to errode our rights to practice and be reimbursed equally and fairly across the nation?

Stand up for what's right, keep posted and contribute whatever you possibly can and please share with all. Please visit www.flpipdefensefund.com for United Practitioners Organization, Inc.

There is no way on earth that I can ever thank Constitutional Attorney, Luke Lirot and his partner in this journey, Adam S. Levine, M.D.,J.D, for their faith in me, Kevin Johnson, CEO of Advanced Mobile Diagnostic Group and our Plaintiffs to help them stand up for massage therapy, massage therapists and our profession in general by spreading the word and by collecting contributions to pay their expenses, time and effort to fight for justice for all.

In spite of all other attorneys saying it couldn't be done, they have already won in court three times and are prepared to go before the Appellate Court Judge to once again present their oral arguments in our favor to obtain a permanent injunction while the case proceeds.

In my 29 years of dealing with insurance, legal cases and attorneys, including personal situations, I have never been as completely and timely informed of the step by step legal process as I have been while working with Attorneys Luke Lirot and Adam Levine.

Because I know the value of being kept in the loop, I want you to be as well. So herein are some of the documents that you can read if you care to know what has been going on in this case since the beginning of this lawsuit right up to date where the attorneys have filed their latest answer to the State's motion to have the injunction dismissed once and for all. Included you will find Amicus Curiae Briefs filed on behalf of FL State Massage Therapy Association (FSMTA), FL Chiropractic Association (FCA) the FL Acupuncturist Assoc. and the FL State Oriental Medical Association and the FL Justice Association (FJA) who are filing on our side. Against us are associations or organizations representing hundreds of insurance companies for the State of Florida (OIR). All of these documents are available at the above mentioned website.

In the documents, you will see the chronological order from the first time it was filed in State Court, dismissed, filed in Federal Court, back to State Court, hearing set by different Judge and his ruling for temporary injunction while the case proceeds through legal channels. From there, the State of Florida, OIR was allowed an Automatic Stay (invalidating the injunction) because it is a government entity.

However, because under the law if one party can show more harm than the other side, the Judge could then rule to Vacate that Stay, keeping the injunction in place. Attorneys Luke Lirot and Adam Levine once again presented a witness and oral arguments against the State of Florida OIR, the Judge did rule to Vacate the Stay and we were back in business for a few days. Then the state of Florida OIR filed an appeal with the 1st District Court of Appeals thereby putting us on hold again. But the 1st District Court of Appeals ruled that the Circuit Court Judge's ruling stands. So we are back in business once again. But wait! Not so fast. Insurance companies are stating because they were not sued individually instead of the state office that regulates them, they are not required to follow the court order so some are refusing to pay massage therapists and acupuncturists or follow the rest of the court order. State Farm is following the order.

So the case goes on and we fully expect to win for all Florida consumers whose right to utilize the full benefits they pay for are back in place, until their right to choose medical providers and services is back in place and until massage therapists and acupuncturists are back to work and until chiropractors can once again make emergency medical determinations.

See the documents to get the full picture of what has been and is happening. Know we are here for you. I am personally excited for this opportunity to do all I can for the profession and to thank each and every one of you who come from nearly all 50 states who have already donated to our cause. I ask that you stay posted on all that is happening and ask all your friends, co -workers, family, vendors and consumers to donate to make this one of the most successful adventures this profession has ever seen. Check out the corporation set up specifically to fight this law and collect contributions to assist. United Practitioners Organization, Inc. www.flpipdefensefund.com.


Click here for more information about Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT.

 

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