Would Align by any other name smell any sweeter? Align Networks is now known as One Call Physical Therapy, picking up a new moniker and logo as part of a rebranding effort. The move comes at an interesting time for the company – Align, of course, received notoriety this year for their role as the defendant in a bombshell lawsuit filed by the Independent Physical Therapists of California (iPTCA). What’s more, a deeper investigation revealed that their name isn’t the only thing that’s changing – the company now known as One Call Physical Therapy will also adopt a new payment system, ECHO Health, as of August 1.
The switch to ECHO may be part of an effort to improve time to payment. Align/One Call implied as much – an FAQ on their website cites “recent feedback by our network providers requesting quicker reimbursements” as one of the drivers of the change.
DaisyBill statistics indicate that Align is one of the slowest payers out there, with an average of 37 working days for receipt of payment across most of 2016 and early 2017. That’s a far cry from the 15 days mandated by California state law for electronic workers’ comp bills and the blazing fast payments of many of the top claims administrators (SCIF and Liberty Mutual, for example, both boast average days to payment of less than 6 days).
But it’s not all quite so rosy as speeding up payment. Align/One Call’s recent partnership with ECHO will reduce payments to providers. ECHO’s default payment processing option routes all provider payments through a system called QuicRemit Virtual Card, or VCard. ECHO reportedly charges providers a merchant “processing fee” in the vicinity of 3% for its VCard payments.
What does that mean? That providers who accept payments through Align/One Call’s new VCard system will receive reduced payment thanks to VCard fee which the provider will pay. And that’s after these same providers already receive steeply discounted reimbursements in the first place. In our opinion, providers should refuse to bear the additional cost of quicker processing. After all, Align already pays these same providers below market rate for their services.
Per a recent iPTCA newsletter, Align/One Call has not notified physical therapists about the switch to VCards. Further, according to the iPTCA, Align/One Call providers will be automatically enrolled into the VCard payment program.
Our advice? If you’re an Align/One Call provider or physical therapist, opt out of this program by contacting Align/OneCall. And if you’re a provider who has signed a discount contract through any network, carefully review your payment options. One Call isn’t the only network that puts the squeeze on provider by using a third-party payment processing services to reduce revenue.
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