One of the things I have been looking into is working to get massage covered by Medicare and all health insurance. I know it is contoversial because of how messed up the system is, but it could help bring massage to many who need it and can’t afford it and also help fight the Opioid epedemic. Hospital based massage therapists could really benefit from having massage be covered. (Cancer centers, recovery from surgery, labor and delivery centers, hospice care etc)
The Veterans Admin has also started hiring MT so that is a step in the right direction. Being able to help Vets more would be amazing. If Medicare would cover massage, most health insurance companies would follow in every state (or so I guess) It’s coming whether we want it or not so I say why not be a part of it.
The accupuncturists are working on it. They have a bill in process. Their announcement(PDF)
: “The ASA and the NCCAOM Support the Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act H.R. 4803 would increase access to acupuncturists for Medicare beneficiaries, provide more non-pharmacological options for pain relief, and promote the profession’s growth. Washington, D.C., July 30, 2021 – The American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) are pleased to support H.R. 4803, the Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act that U.S. Representative Judy Chu (D-California) introduced on July 29, 2021. H.R. 4803 would authorize the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to recognize qualified acupuncturists as healthcare providers. Medicare recognition would enable qualified acupuncturists to provide covered services to Medicare beneficiaries—over 60-million Americans.”
Their roadmap to advocacy (PDF)
The bill: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/4803/text?r=52&s=1
If you look at the bill, you can see what legislators supported the bill. I found some in my state who support the bill. I am planning on reaching out to them to figure out if we can get some sort of bill going. (I think that is where to start…but any input appreciated).
I am in WA State where we have had the ability to bill health insurance for over 20 years because of a law we had created by our insurance commissioner called the every category law. When it was passed, the insurance carriers fought it like crazy but it persisted and the insurance commissioner won with a supreme court decision – you can see the timeline of the battle here Issues in Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
It ends with in “January 1999 US Supreme Court denies Plaintiffs petition for Writ of Certiorari, leaving the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to stand.
Here in WA, health insurance covers massage only when it is medically necessary and the insurance carriers have specific definintions for that (although many MT are giving maintenance massage when it is not covered and that is part of the problem and a whole other story).
Medicare Advantage Plans already are starting to cover massage therapy.
Some other orgs to reach out to who have been supporting the integration of massage into healthcare:
IHPC had a cover my care campaign when the Affordable Care Act passed. That has language that also supports the inclusion of massage into healthcare but our associations have failed to act on it. It is always being challenged but still holds today. http://www.ihpc.org/covermycare/
They did have a blog on covermymassage at one time but can’t find it now.
I think we also need a Board Certification in Clinical Massage (what some are calling medical massage) to separate out the spas from being able to bill. AMTA should be working on this and I think they are but they are not very forthcoming on telling us what they are doing. Last year they supported the No Pain Act. That is another part of this.
AMTA working on getting massage covered by Medicare
AMTA is working on getting massage covered by Medicare with the Alliance to Advance Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management (AACIPM) …and it looks like CMS is actually paying attention.
AACIPM says: “However, the efforts of AACIPM’s many stakeholders were not for naught, as recommendations #2 and #4 from our letter were directly quoted by CMS in their summary of public comments, as they wrote: One commenter recommended that “CMS establish a multi-stakeholder working group to determine operational details and resource allocation” and requested that CMS “establish a pilot program using innovative payment methodologies.”
Call for Action
I see a plan starting something like this:
- Contact legislators about a bill.
- Write letters to legislators.
- Do we need a lobbyist to help right it? That costs probably $10k a month or so (our WA State lobbyist costs about $5k I think).
- Create a document with info that shows how massage can help with top medical conditions to give to legislators.
- Figure out how much this would cost and start a fundraiser.
- Contact AMTA and ABMP to see what they are doing.
- Start applying to be a Medicare/Medicaid Provider even though they are not accepting Massage therapists as providers.
- Start sending them bills even though they do not pay so they can be denied just to get into the system.
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