Explorations in the Theory and Practice
Challenge to The Massage Profession:
I am writing this letter after 17 years of being in full time practice in Seattle WA. WA State has been the leader in creating licensing and legislation and is now in the forefront of the insurance billing issues that massage therapists are faced with. The profession is at a major tuning point of being accepted by the medical profession and the insurance industry. The future depends on how we as a profession define "massage" and so-called "medical massage".
The "Every Category Law" allows us to become contracted providers with insurance networks. We are one of two states that mandates that alternative therapies such as massage, acupuncture and naturopathy be We are able to bill health insurance companies along with the usual automobile insurance companies and Labor & Industries for our services.
This acceptance by the insurance industry and the medical profession brings with it a double edged sword. On one hand, we want our work to be accepted and understood. We want to be able to provide our clients with this service and build a profitable and successful practice. On the other hand comes the issues of having the insurance networks determine our standards of practice which is currently happening in WA State!!!!
Here are the facts that are currently happening in WA State:
After attending a panel discussion group put on by the AMTA-WA here in Seattle on the meaning of credentialing by the insurance networks, I learned that the insurance companies are doing this basically ‘because they can".
Our profession has yet to declare what we stand for or what we want. We have not been able to step up and define "medical massage" nor determine what we want our role to be when working with the medical profession.
I believe that we need to even take it a step farther and determine if we want to be a part of the so-called medical profession and participate in such networks.
Do we want to work with a system of health care that is attempting to define our profession?
Do we want to participate in networks that have already forced medical doctors out of practice?
Do we really want to be paid less and less for what we do?
How can we create our own health care system model that incorporates our beliefs about healing?
How can we prove that the therapeutic relationship is what heals and not any technique that we do? How can we prove that it is the power of touch that heals and our ability to educate (draw forth) the client in the process of healing?
How can we define our profession and create a definition of "medical massage" that includes all therapy? (Who are we to say what is or isn't therapy?)
My challenge to the profession is to step up and create a definition of massage that incorporates ALL healing touch modalities including relaxation massage. We have the opportunity to co-create our profession rather than just accepting what is handed to us. The dilemma is driven by politics and economics.
The insurance networks bottom line it to make money while serving its members.
What is our bottom line? How much will we take before we realize that the insurance networks are creating and defining our profession?
I am not sure what the answer is...how to make the insurance companies listen or what do we need to do to clarify our intent and mission as a whole...
Julie Onofrio, LMP
The Every Category Law:
RCW 48.43.005- The Every Category Lawhttp://www.leg.wa.gov/RCW/index.cfm?section=48.43.005&fuseaction=section
Vivian Madison- Mahoney: http://www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/07/09.html
My View From Here: