John Weeksby John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports
  
CMS gives Certified Nutrition Specialists (CNS) parity with RDs for delivering hospital nutrition

“We just won a seismic victory, giving nutrition professionals the same rights as Registered Dietitians to provide nutrition services in hospitals.” So began an email from Mike Stroka, JD, MBA, MS, CNS, LDN, executive director of the Board of Certification of Nutrition Specialists. Stroka referred to a “landmark federal ruling [by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)] that all qualified nutrition professionals-not just Registered Dietitians-may order therapeutic diets in hospitals.” This, Stroka says, “has leveled the playing field between nutrition professionals and Registered Dietitians.” It may not be only the CNS field that benefits. The CMS decision “embraces the right of a variety of highly qualified nutrition professionals-such as Certified Nutrition Specialists to practice in hospitals, and rejects the assertion that Registered Dietitians should have an exclusive right to p

by John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports


CMS gives Certified Nutrition Specialists (CNS) parity with RDs for delivering hospital nutrition

“We just won a seismic victory, giving nutrition professionals the same rights as Registered Dietitians to provide nutrition services in hospitals.” So began an email from Mike Stroka, JD, MBA, MS, CNS, LDN, executive director of the Board of Certification of Nutrition Specialists. Stroka referred to a “landmark federal ruling [by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)] that all qualified nutrition professionals-not just Registered Dietitians-may order therapeutic diets in hospitals.” This, Stroka says, “has leveled the playing field between nutrition professionals and Registered Dietitians.” It may not be only the CNS field that benefits. The CMS decision “embraces the right of a variety of highly qualified nutrition professionals-such as Certified Nutrition Specialists to practice in hospitals, and rejects the assertion that Registered Dietitians should have an exclusive right to provide medical nutrition therapy.” He concludes: “This is an important moment for the nutrition profession and for the health of Americans.” The organization’s release on the breakthrough is here.

Comment
: This does appear to be a decision that can properly be called “landmark.” It will be interesting to see, for instance, if a practitioner group such as naturopathic physicians, with their extensive training in therapeutic nutrition, can be included in guiding this new depth and diversity of hospital nutritional services to patients.

Getting consumers active on Section 2706: IHPC to roll-out CoverMyCare campaign

Washington, DC-based integrative health and medicine writer and consultant Taylor Walsh, an Integrator adviser and columnist, sends this notice: “In early September, the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) plans on rolling out a CoverMyCare website in support of its consumer campaign to educate the public and state officials about Section 2706 of the Affordable Care Act: ‘Non-discrimination in healthcare.’  Because correct implementation of the law lies in the hands of state officials, CoverMyCare will provide contact information for those officials and advocacy tools as a way to help patients and practitioners persuade their states to make sure that insurers comply with the law.”

Walsh continued: “The web site will include a section on ‘Integrative Health in the US,’ that will explain the poorly understood basics of the CAM disciplines, the education of its practitioners, patient stories, and examples of the growing use of integrative practice across the country, including in US Military and Veterans Health.” Walsh adds that “the project will engage consumers, patients and practitioners through social media and crowdsourcing and to emphasize the broad promise of Section 2706 which is reimbursement for the services of all licensed health care practitioners.” The initial stages of the project are being funded through grants from Bastyr University and the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).

Comment
: First, major kudos to Bastyr and AMTA for their policy leadership. In the tenure of Bastyr’s president Dan Church, PhD, which he announced will end June 2015, Bastyr has co-sponsored IHPC’s major Affordable Care Act and Beyond: A Stakeholder Conference on Integrated Health Care (Report) (2010), been a stalwart partner organization to IHPC and has also been a steady, significant contributor to the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC), an organization that has also been engaged in multiple policy-related efforts. (Disclosure: I am involved with ACCAHC.) Meantime, terrific to see AMTA stepping up after its slow start in support of that significant portion of its members who are involved in third party payment for their services. Second, credit Walsh who saw this gaping need, conceived and pushed this campaign. While the campaign’s initial duration is just six month, here’s hoping CoverMyCare will pick up steam, with crowd-funded and other support. The consumer may be the necessary countervailing force to insurer intransigence, and we need to up their involvement and keep at it. We can surely guess that the antagonism in the insurance industry to doing what Congress intended will certainly outlast 6 months.

IHPC’s thorough response to HHS on practitioner and consumer experiences relative to Non-Discrimination in Health Care

The Integrator has previously referenced the work of the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC), in collaboration with MPA Media and others, to respond with exceptional thoroughness to the call from US Health and Human Services for information regarding Section 2706, Non-Discrimination in Health Care. IHPC’s executive director Alyssa Wostrel, MPH, shares that IHPC’s 16-page response is here to HHS March request through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). A key point in the IHPC response is that, via a survey of 5300 licensed practitioners, “85% said their patients were rarely, irregularly, or incompletely successful in obtaining reimbursement for the healthcare services they provided and coded on a superbill.” IHPC additionally reported that “problems also exist among providers who contract with a third-party payer.” They found that 21% report that “patient access to healthcare services has been denied since January 1st, 2014.”  Among the seven primary recommendations in the response is the following:  “Clearly provide, in the newly-issued guidance, that commercial insurers must allow all types of licensed providers to participate in their networks and to clearly define terms such as network adequacy.”

Comment
: Good for IHPC to take the request for public comment as a significant opportunity to educate HHS on obstacles to patients is receiving the options that Congress intended.  With this response, and the coming CoverMyCare, IHPC continues to be “the little engine that could” for all of integrative health and medicine policy. Why do you know who might contribute to the organization, or the campaign?

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