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W.H.O. Acupuncture, P.C. As Assignee of Iqbal Mohammad v. Progressive Preferred Ins. Co

SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE TERM, SECOND DEPARTMENT, 2d, 11th and 13th JUDICIAL DISTRICTS New York Supreme and/or Appellate Courts


July 12, 2012

W.H.O. ACUPUNCTURE, P.C. AS ASSIGNEE OF IQBAL MOHAMMAD,
APPELLANT,
v.
PROGRESSIVE PREFERRED INS. CO.,
RESPONDENT.

Appeal from an order of the Civil Court of the City of New York, Queens County (Terrence C. O'Connor, J.), entered May 24, 2010, deemed from a judgment of the same court entered July 8, 2010 (see CPLR 5501 [c]).

W.H.O. Acupuncture, P.C. v Progressive Preferred Ins. Co.

Appellate Term, Second Department

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.

Decided on July 12, 2012

PRESENT: PESCE, P.J., WESTON and ALIOTTA, JJ

The judgment, entered pursuant to the May 24, 2010 order denying a motion by plaintiff which sought summary judgment upon all of its claims other than its claim for dates of service from September 19, 2007 to September 28, 2007, and granting a cross motion by defendant which sought summary judgment dismissing all of plaintiff's claims other than plaintiff's claim for dates of service from September 19, 2007 to September 28, 2007, dismissed the complaint as to all of plaintiff's claims other than plaintiff's claim for dates of service from September 19, 2007 to September 28, 2007.

ORDERED that the judgment is reversed, without costs, so much of the order as granted the branch of defendant's cross motion seeking summary judgment dismissing the claims for which plaintiff had billed under CPT Code 97811 and for which defendant had denied all payment is vacated, the branch of defendant's cross motion seeking summary judgment dismissing those claims is denied, and the matter is remitted to the Civil Court for all further proceedings. In this action by a provider to recover assigned first-party no-fault benefits, plaintiff moved for summary judgment on all of its claims other than its claim for dates of service from September 19, 2007 to September 28, 2007, and defendant cross-moved for summary judgment dismissing all of plaintiff's claims other than plaintiff's claim for dates of service from September 19, 2007 to September 28, 2007. The Civil Court, by order entered May 24, 2010, denied plaintiff's motion and granted defendant's cross motion. A judgment was subsequently entered, from which the appeal is deemed to have been taken (see CPLR 5501 [c]). As the parties excepted from the Civil Court's consideration plaintiff's claim for dates of service from September 19, 2007 to September 28, 2007, we do not address that claim.

With respect to plaintiff's claims for acupuncture services billed under CPT Code 97810, defendant demonstrated that it had fully paid plaintiff for those services in accordance with the workers' compensation fee schedule for acupuncture services performed by chiropractors (see Great Wall Acupuncture, P.C. v Geico Ins. Co., 26 Misc 3d 23 [App Term, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2009]). Accordingly, the Civil Court properly granted the branch of defendant's cross motion seeking summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's claims for the unpaid portions of those bills.

With respect to plaintiff's claims for acupuncture services billed under CPT Code 97811, defendant paid some of those claims at a reduced rate, but denied all payment for other such claims. As to the claims for which defendant paid plaintiff at a reduced rate, defendant demonstrated that it had fully paid plaintiff for those services in accordance with the workers' compensation fee schedule for acupuncture services performed by chiropractors. Thus, the Civil Court properly granted the branch of defendant's cross motion seeking summary judgment dismissing those claims.

As to the claims for acupuncture services billed under CPT Code 97811 for which defendant denied all payment, defendant based its denials on the ground that the CPT Code was "time based," and that plaintiff had not provided documentation to substantiate the time for the procedure. In support of its cross motion, defendant offered no explanation as to why in some cases it had paid at the reduced rate, while in other cases it had denied all payment. As defendant failed to provide an expert's affidavit to explain the discrepancy in how defendant interpreted the fee schedule so as to permit reduced payment in some circumstances and no payment in others (see Kingsbrook Jewish Med. Ctr. v Allstate Ins. Co., 61 AD3d 13 [2009]), defendant did not establish its prima facie entitlement to summary judgment with respect to the branch of its cross motion seeking summary judgment dismissing those claims.

We note that plaintiff likewise did not establish its prima facie entitlement to summary judgment therefor (see Dan Med., P.C. v New York Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 14 Misc 3d 44 [App Term, 2d & 11th Jud Dists 2006]).

Accordingly, the judgment is reversed, so much of the order as granted the branch of defendant's cross motion seeking summary judgment dismissing the claims for which plaintiff had billed under CPT Code 97811 and for which defendant had denied all payment is vacated, the branch of defendant's cross motion seeking summary judgment dismissing those claims is denied, and the matter is remitted to the Civil Court for all further proceedings on those claims.

Pesce, P.J., and Aliotta, J., concur.

Weston, J., dissents in a separate memorandum.

Weston, J., dissents and votes to affirm the judgment in the following memorandum:

I agree with the majority to the extent it upholds the portion of the Civil Court's order awarding defendant summary judgment with respect to those bills that were paid in accordance with the workers' compensation fee schedule. Contrary to plaintiff's argument, chiropractors who perform acupuncture services are not entitled to be paid at the rate for medical doctors who perform the same services. Thus, defendant's use of the workers' compensation fee schedule to determine the chiropractor's rate for acupuncture services was proper (see Great Wall Acupuncture, P.C. v Geico Ins. Co., 26 Misc 3d 23 [App Term, 2d, 11th & 13th Jud Dists 2009]).

As for plaintiff's argument that defendant improperly denied payment for some of the sessions on the ground that they were "time-based procedures," plaintiff failed to raise this argument in the Civil Court. Although defendant, in its cross motion, asserted that it had denied some claims under CPT Code 97811 on the ground that plaintiff had failed to state the time for the procedure, plaintiff, in opposition, never challenged this assertion. Instead, plaintiff does so for the first time on appeal, maintaining that a time was given in the documentation submitted. In my opinion, the argument is unpreserved, and I see no reason to review it in the interest of justice.

Accordingly, I vote to affirm the judgment. Decision Date: July 12, 2012

20120712

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