May 30, 2006
Roberts Physical Therapy, P.C. v State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. (2006 NY Slip Op 52565(U))
Reported in New York Official Reports at Roberts Physical Therapy, P.C. v State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. (2006 NY Slip Op 52565(U))
|Roberts Physical Therapy, P.C. v State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co.
|2006 NY Slip Op 52565(U)
|Decided on May 30, 2006
|Civil Court Of The City Of New York, Kings County
|Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
|As corrected in part through February 16, 2007; it will not be published in the printed Official Reports.
Civil Court of the City of New York, Kings County
Roberts Physical Therapy, P.C., as assignees of REGGIE DELMAR, and MARIO RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Co., Defendant.
Sylvia G. Ash, J.
Plaintiff, a health care provider, rendered medical services to the assignors in connection with injuries sustained as a result of separate automobile accidents that occurred in September of 2003. At the time of the alleged accidents, Defendant was the first-party no-fault carrier responsible for payment of any claims properly submitted. Plaintiff brought this action to recover first-party no-fault benefits for the medical services rendered to its assignors. A trial on this matter was conducted jointly.[FN1]. The trial commenced on February 6, 2006 and was heard on consecutive days until its conclusion on February 9, 2006. At issue as to assignor Reggie Delmar, is $484.44. At issue as to assignor Mario Rodriguez is $968.88, for a total of $1,453.32. Based on the credible evidence adduced at trial this Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.
In accordance with the applicable no-fault rules, Plaintiff submitted the required no-fault claim forms indicating the fact and amount of the loss sustained for each of its assignors, and Defendant timely denied said claims based on the fact that the alleged automobile accidents were not covered.[FN2]. For each of its assignors Plaintiff submitted claims for the following services, Inclinometry Range of Motion procedures (code 95851), and Manual Muscle Testing procedures (code 95831). Defendant denied said claims. As a basis for its denial of each of these claims Defendant asserted two reasons. First, for the Inclinometry Range of motion procedures, Defendant contends that the “procedure is not listed in the NY state fee schedule for this provider specialty. If reported with an evaluation and management service, this procedure is [*2]inclusive.” Second, for the Manual Muscle Testing procedures, Defendant contends the “procedures referenced by the provider’s office were used more than what is normally expected per visit.” (See Joint Exhibits 1 and 2 in evidence, Defendant’s denial of claim for each assignor respectively).
In light of the parties stipulating to Plaintiff’s prima facie case, and Defendant’s timely denial of the claims submitted, the only remaining issue for this Court to determine is whether the Defendant met its burden by demonstrating that Plaintiff was not entitled to recover for the claims submitted based on the fact that the procedures were not listed in the fee schedule for the provider, and based on the fact that the procedures were used more than what is expected per visit.
To contain the cost of providing medical services to patients treated under New York’s No-Fault law, the state legislature set limits on the fees health care providers may charge patients who sustain injuries in the use or operation of a motor vehicle. The legislature controlled costs by incorporating into the no-fault scheme the fee schedules established by the Worker’s Compensation Board for industrial accidents. Worker’s Compensation fee schedules were divided into various sections, including Medicine, Physical Therapy, Anesthesia, Surgery, Radiology, and Pathology in the medical fee schedule. Each of these sections lists a variety of medical procedures and assigns to each procedure a number known as a Current Procedural Terminology Registry Code (hereinafter “CPT code”). Each procedure listed in the fee schedule is assigned a number representing its “unit value.” To determine the maximum fee a provider may charge for any given procedure, the unit value assigned to that procedure is multiplied by a dollar amount conversion factor. Conversion factors are provider specific. Hence, the conversion factors apply only t the category of health care provider and type of treatment for which they were established (see Introna v. Allstate Insurance Co., 890 F.Supp.161).
The Worker’s Compensation fee schedules are adjusted by the superintendent of the Insurance Department (see Insurance Law §5108). One adjustment made by the superintendent is for health services not set out in the schedules. When a charge for a reimbursable service has not been scheduled by the superintendent, although a fee schedule has been set for the profession of the provider, then the provider shall establish a fee or unit value consistent with other fees or unit values for comparable procedures shown in such schedule subject to review by the insurer (see 11 NYCRR 68.6(a); Studin v. Allstate Insurance Co, 152 Misc 2d 221).
During trial in the instant matter, Plaintiff submitted bills indicating that, Inclinometry Range of Motion procedures (CPT code 95851), and Manual Muscle Testing procedures (CPT code 95831), were performed on the assignors. In its post-trial memorandum of law on this issue, Plaintiff demonstrated by using a chart, the precise method for calculating the charges for the expenses. Specifically, Plaintiff indicated that it did in fact locate the procedures that were performed on the assignors within the Worker’s Compensation schedule, under CPT codes, 95851 and 95831. Plaintiff using the “comparable procedures” method then billed the insurer at a rate comparable for a physical therapists rate for providing these services. Defendant failed to [*3]introduce any evidence on this issue at trial or in its post-trial memorandum of law to establish that the services rendered were in fact not scheduled services, or as the defendant stated in its denial “…not listed in the NY state fee schedule for this provider specialty.”
In addition to reviewing the record and the post-trial memoranda of the parties, the Court conducted an investigation of the fee schedule. Both of the above-referenced procedures listed in the bills submitted by the Plaintiff in this case were in fact listed in the schedule (see Worker’s Compensation Board Fee Schedule of medicine Fees, Page 32). Pursuant to the chart utilized by Plaintiff in its post-trial memorandum of law, the court is satisfied that Plaintiff billed the insurer at the appropriate physical therapist rate of the services rendered, and as such, is entitled to recovery for the expenses. Defendant offered no proof to the contrary, and as such, has failed to maintain this defense.
The Court will now address Defendant’s contention that the “procedures referenced by the provider’s office were used more than what is normally expected per visit,” (see Joint Exhibits 1 and 2 in evidence, Defendant’s denial of claim for each assignor respectively). It is the Court’s position that this defense amounts to one of lack of medical necessity. It is well settled that where Defendant’s timely denial raises the lack of medical necessity defense but fails to support same with an Independent Medical exam (hereinafter “IME”), a peer review, an IME report, or other supporting documentation that is factually sufficient and non-conclusory, this defense will fail )Amaze Med. Supply Inc. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 3 Misc 3d 43 [App Term 2d & 11th Jud Dists. 2004]. As such, Defendant failed to preserve this defense for trial. Assuming arguendo Defendant had preserved this defense for trial, Defendant failed to call any expert witnesses at trial to testify regarding this issue. Nor did Defendant attempt to introduce any documents into evidence regarding this issue. As such, Defendant’s argument fails in its entirety as there is absolutely no basis in the record upon which the Court could make the determination that the procedures referenced by the Plaintiff in its claim forms were “..more than what is normally expected per visit” (see Joint exhibits 1 and 2 in evidence, Defendant’s denial of claim for each assignor respectively).
Based on the foregoing, judgment is to be entered in favor of the Plaintiff in the amount of $1,453.32, plus statutory interest and reasonable attorney fees.
This constitutes the decision and order of this Court.
May 30, 2006
SYLVIA G. ASH
JUDGE, CIVIL COURT
Footnote 1: This matter was tried jointly with index numbers 46906/05, 46927/05, 46933/05, and 48354/05.
Footnote 2:The parties stipulated on the record to Plaintiff’s prima facie case and that Defendant issued timely denials. [*4]