ACA Details Action Plan to Address OIG Report
| "In the opinion of the ACA, the majority of chiropractic care being provided to Medicare beneficiaries is medically necessary and clearly beneficial.
We do not believe this is a case of inappropriate care being rendered."|
- Donald J. Krippendorf, ACA president
Following on the footsteps of the June 2005 report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) that chronicled alleged errors in Medicare claims submitted by doctors of chiropractic, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) Board of Governors has voted to create a special committee that will oversee review of the report. The newly formed committee will examine all facets of the OIG report, including methodology used and how justification was made for the conclusions drawn; determine the specificity and range of any problems that are identified; and if valid errors are cited, develop measures to provide a substantial response. ACA President Donald J. Krippendorf, DC, explained:
"Whether or not the findings of the IG report are valid, the unfortunate result for the chiropractic profession is the perception that a great deal of unnecessary care is being provided. That perception, in today's stark budget environment where members of Congress are searching for ways to save money, threatens chiropractic's future in the Medicare program, and also threatens the abilities of the chiropractor to treat the patient's conditions properly."
Chiropractic Services in the Medicare Program: Payment Vulnerability Analysis, determined that the majority of chiropractic claims examined contained documentation errors or omissions. [See "Is Failure to Document Giving Chiropractic a Black Eye?" in the July 30 issue: www.chiroweb.com/archives/23/16/11.html.] The report also concluded that many of the chiropractic care plans examined were not medically necessary, consisting of "maintenance therapy," which is specifically excluded under allowable benefits for the Medicare program. The report recommended that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services take steps to eliminate noncovered or inappropriate chiropractic treatment/care plans within the Medicare program. National frequency-based controls were even suggested as a possible mechanism to reduce payment of inappropriate chiropractic care.
ACA officials emphasize that the committee's work needs to be thorough and deliberate, involving other key parties' input, such as chiropractic state associations, licensing boards and chiropractic colleges. They also note that substantial efforts have been underway since 2001, well prior to this report, to provide information and structured guidance addressing the documentation issue, including a documentation manual and educational seminar series.
Northwestern Launches New Alumni Publication, Online Wellness Site
In June 2005, Northwestern Health Sciences University (NHSU) launched a new full-color alumni publication, Northwestern Naturally. The magazine is dedicated to "[helping] alumni, students and employees remain connected not only to the University, but also to their friends and colleagues around the world," according to Deborah Peterson, director of alumni relations and co-editor of the magazine. Each issue will feature campus news, updates from the university's president, Dr. Alfred Traina, alumni profiles, practice management tips, healthy living resources, and updates of graduates. An ongoing history section will also be featured.
John Healy, BS, director of communications and co-editor of the new publication, noted: "Since Northwestern became a University in 1999, hundreds of acupuncturists, Oriental medicine practitioners, and massage therapists have joined more than 4,500 doctors of chiropractic as alumni of Northwestern. "It is only natural, then, that we would integrate our three alumni publications into one. We chose the name Northwestern Naturally because not only does it connote the University's mission to advance and promote natural approaches to health through education, research, clinical services and community involvement, but [it also] reflects that Northwestern is the natural choice for future practitioners of natural health care."
The university also recently unveiled a new healthy living Web site (www.nwhealth.edu/healthyu), designed to be a "one-stop" resource for anything related to health and wellness.
"General consumers who do not have a great deal of knowledge of how to effectively improve their health will find an abundance of tools to assist them," commented Rosie Ward, MPH, CHES, health and wellness coordinator at Northwestern. "People who are looking for new information to challenge them will also find content on the site useful."
Centering on topics related to health and wellness, the site will provide ongoing access for practitioners and their patients. Plans for continued expansion over the next year include sections related to coaching resources; listings of upcoming health and fitness events; and in-depth information on topics ranging from nutrition to organic foods, weight training to feng shui, ergonomics, relaxation topics, and even outdoor recreation.
WFC Announces More Corporate Members
The World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) has announced that nine companies have joined the organization as corporate associate members. The new members join 14 companies named as corporate sponsors earlier this year. [See "WFC Announces Newest Corporate Members," May 21, 2005 issue, News in Brief.] Overall, the WFC now boasts 53 corporate members - an all-time high.
The newest corporate associate members of the WFC are:
- National Chiropractic Council (corporate benefactor)
- Chiropractic Diplomatic Corps (corporate executive)
- Medic Ice/Straight Arrow Products (corporate executive)
- Dee Cee Laboratories, Inc. (corporate sponsor)
- Chiropractic Economics magazine (corporate sponsor)
- DMX-Works, Inc. (corporate sponsor)
- Orthopedic Physical Therapy Products/OPTP (corporate supporter)
- Standard Process (corporate supporter)
- Elite Manufacturing (corporate supporter)
"These new corporate members joining the family of our other corporate members are a major help in making the international work of the WFC possible," enthused Dr. Anthony Metcalfe, WFC president. "[They] deserve the thanks and support of everyone in the profession."
The WFC formally recognized all of its associate members at the organization's 8th Biennial Congress in Sydney, Australia in June 2005. The complete list of current associate members (corporate and individual), as well as additional information about the WFC, is available online at www.wfc.org.