Protecting patient care

Save OMT: Proposed rules target DOs

AOA launches advocacy campaign targeting the policy’s fundamental misunderstanding of how DOs use OMT to diagnose and treat patients.


A proposed local coverage determination policy for 10 states would create barriers for DOs to correctly bill Medicare when they provide osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), severely threatening patient access to a cornerstone of osteopathic medicine, according to the American Osteopathic Association’s public policy team.

The AOA has launched an advocacy campaign to help DOs submit comments and patient stories supporting OMT as a frontline, non-pharmaceutical treatment for pain. AOA’s strategy targets the policy’s fundamental misunderstanding of how DOs practice medicine and use OMT to diagnose and treat illness and injury.

“Essentially, the proposal addresses OMT as though it were chiropractic care, which in no way reflects how DOs care for patients, particularly those with musculoskeletal conditions. As fully licensed physicians, DOs are committed to reducing the number of opioids used to manage pain and understand that this draft policy will threaten patient access to one of the few effective, non-opioid interventions for pain,” said Ray Quintero, senior vice president for public policy.

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“Right now, the federal government encourages physicians to consider alternatives to opioids, so it’s startling to read a proposal that would make it much more difficult for patients in the Medicare program to get non-pharmaceutical relief through OMT,” he added.

Under the draft policy, osteopathic physicians essentially could not bill Medicare for an office visit along with OMT on the same date–even though that appointment is necessary to evaluate the patient’s need for OMT. If passed, 10 states—Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island—would share Medicare policy that fails to reflect how DOs practice.

It is important to note that, if adopted, this policy could easily spread to additional states as well as to private payers throughout the country.
At issue is what many believe is a fundamental misunderstanding of OMT. The draft policy not only makes it difficult for physicians to accurately bill for their services, it also stipulates that DOs produce and follow a Plan of Care like a chiropractor or physical therapist.

“Every osteopathic physician knows that OMT should improve a patient’s condition, which often occurs in one or two treatments. Overall, it’s clearly more cost effective to evaluate a patient’s response over time rather than to perform 10 treatments before you reassess the need for more. AOA will not support this blunt approach to care,” said Boyd R. Buser, DO, AOA President.


  1. BG

    Osteopathic physicians practice OMT and assess in a manner totally different from how chiropractors do manipulation to correct subluxations or how PTs do joint mobilizations. This LCD proposal absolutely needs to be vigorously opposed by the AOA.

    1. Pamela J. Semies

      Where can I locate a physician in Maryland that practices the osteopathic manipulative procedure for a patient with Osteoporosis. I you have a brochure of information. I would greatly appreciate your sending it my way. Most Sincerely. Pamela Semies, 3916 Love Ave., Edgewood, Md. 21040 Thanks in Advance!

  2. Joan Friedland

    Please protect Medicare coverage for people like myself who have benefitted in numerous ways from OMT coverage – it has protected from the often negative effect of drugs and relieved much pain that seems to become more intense with ageing – Thank you

  3. Joan Friedland

    Joan Friedland
    AUG. 10, 2016, AT 6:05 PM
    Please protect Medicare coverage for people like myself who have benefitted in numerous ways from OMT coverage – it has protected from the often negative effect of drugs and relieved much pain that seems to become more intense with ageing – Thank you

  4. Mary Giovannini

    As a patient, I have experienced the healing powers of OMT since I was a child. OMT is a successful treatment option for me and I do not want this new rule that would diminish the level of care I could receive from my osteopathic physician.

    I live in a community where the first School of Osteopathy was founded by A. T. Still. People have come from all over the world for osteopathic treatments because they are so helpful and beneficial.

    I could give you story after story about the people I know who have been helped by osteopathic treatments.

    My back has given me problems since I was a child and the osteopath can manipulate my back so it does not hurt. My knee hurts and needs to be replaced, the osteopathic physician can manipulate the knee so I can walk very well delaying knee replacement.

    I oppose draft LCD 33616 because my health would deteriorate without osteopathic manipulation.

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