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‘PIP’ Payments Rejected For Massage Therapists

massage therapist gives a massage
The Florida Channel
The case involved physical-therapy service provided by massage therapists at a clinic.

Pointing in part to a law passed in 2012, an appeals court Wednesday sided with Geico General Insurance Co. in a dispute about paying for physical-therapy services provided by massage therapists to auto-accident victims.

The Miami-Dade County case involved bills sent by Beacon Healthcare Center, Inc., under the state’s personal-injury protection, or PIP, insurance system.

The bills involved physical-therapy services provided by massage therapists at the clinic.

Geico denied the claims, touching off legal fights. A circuit judge ruled that the clinic could recover PIP benefits for physical-therapy services provided by unsupervised massage therapists.

But Wednesday’s decision by a three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal overturned that ruling, citing a law that took effect Jan. 1, 2013. That law excluded massage therapists from receiving PIP reimbursements.

“While there is some overlap between the two licensed practices, they are different practices requiring different licensures. Regardless of the use of physical therapy modalities ‘incidental to’ the practice of massage therapy, the PIP statute precludes reimbursement for services provided by a licensed massage therapist,” said the eight-page decision, written by appeals-court Judge Eric Hendon and joined by judges Norma Lindsey and Bronwyn Miller. “The trial court erred when it appeared to rely on the ‘incidental to’ language in the Physical Therapy Act … to deem the Beacon Healthcare massage therapists’ services eligible for PIP reimbursement. The services were performed in these consolidated cases by unsupervised massage therapists, regardless of the modalities used.”