I often blog about what I experience on a day by day basis. Yesterday I was sent an email from Colorado Medical Solutions, so I thought it was time for a review. Let’s dig in.
What is Colorado Medical Solutions?
Colorado Medical Solutions has Clinics in Denver and Colorado Springs. The clinics are run by a chiropractor, Dean Jones and offer hormone replacement therapy, functional medicine, and “stem cell” therapy. There are no physicians at this medical clinic, but only a nurse practitioner.
A Troubling Email
I got this email from Colorado Medical Solutions because it was sent to a friend:
“This is Colorado Medical Solutions, and we are BEYOND excited to announce that we may be the first clinic in the state of Colorado to offer Stem Cell Recruitment Therapy that is now covered by Medicare. YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT, WE CAN NOW GET YOU TREATED AND HAVE IT COVERED BY MEDICARE! This is revolutionary turn of events and we cannot contain our excitement for now being able to assist countless patients with their chronic pain and bodily issues!”
First, what is stem cell recruitment therapy? What’s being discussed is amniotic membrane or fluid, which is what surrounds a fetus. Many providers, after realizing that the amniotic tissue as sold to them doesn’t have live and functional stem cells, have begun to call it “stem cell recruitment” therapy. This is because, like much cheaper platelet-rich plasma derived from the patient, amniotic tissues have growth factors that may or may not recruit stem cells from the patient’s body.
So is amniotic tissue to treat pain covered by Medicare? NO!!! Injections of amniotic fluid or membrane to treat pain are NOT covered by Medicare. There is coverage for the use of an amniotic membrane product to cover the eye in ophthalmology surgeries Hence, if you were to submit an ocular wound care code with a request to reimburse amniotic tissue when what you really did was to inject amniotic tissue to treat pain, this could be paid. However, there are very serious penalties and legal problems for submitting incorrect information to Medicare.
Does Colorado Medicial Solutions Use Stem Cells?
On the Colorado Medical Solutions website, we see this: “Stem cells can be harvested from your bone marrow, fat or birth tissues. The stem cells that come from your own body, autologous, are thought to be safer. The problem is the results have not been great. Which is why stem cells never got as popular as they have in the past 4 years. Now we get stem cells from umbilical cords from live healthy births. These stem cells are the most vibrant powerful stem cells.”
So is any of this actually verifiably true? Let’s take two key points:
- The results with stem cells from your own body haven’t been great. Below is all of the research showing that bone marrow stem cells work to treat a number of orthopedic problems (click to see the full document):
The document lists the positive results of more than eleven thousand patients who have had their orthopedic problems treated with their own bone marrow stem cells. Each circle represents a different study (click on each one to see the study listed in the US National Library of Medicine). So there is no truth to the concept that your own bone marrow stem cells won’t work.
- There are stem cells in the umbilical cord and amniotic products being used by Colorado Medical Solutions. Regrettably, this is also not true. Several university and independent labs have published on this claim and all found no stem cells in these products (1-3). This is from a recent test run by the Colorado State University Translational Medicine Institute:
This is called a CFU-f test, where 5 common umbilical cord products that each claimed to have young and vibrant stem cells and that are used by chiropractic and medical clinics were vetted. In this test, purple dots mean stem cell colonies. All white means no stem cells. All 5 products on the left had no viable stem cells. The middle-aged and elderly bone marrow on the right had plenty of stem cells.
Past Problems for Dean Jones
The owner of Colorado Medical Solutions is Dean Jones. Dean used to own a clinic called West 2 Medical Solutions in North Dakota. There, the attorney general fined Jones for misleading patients about stem cell injections from amniotic fluid. Jones was also restricted from offering any further birth tissue therapies that claimed to have stem cells.
The upshot? Does Medicare really cover stem cell recruitment therapy? NO. Any bill can be submitted to Medicare and if the code is one that they cover, they will pay the bill. However, the use of the wrong code by the provider comes with serious penalties and legal consequences. Does Colorado Medical Solutions offer umbilical cord or amniotic stem cells? No, the research at this point shows that these products contain no live stem cells. Your bone marrow has live stem cells. In the meantime, do your homework before spending your hard-earned money.
(1) Berger D, Lyons N, Steinmetz, N. In Vitro Evaluation of Injectable, Placental Tissue-Derived Products for Interventional Orthopedics. Interventional Orthopedics Foundation Annual Meeting. Denver, 2015. https://interventionalorthopedics.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/AmnioProducts-Poster.pdf
(2) Becktell L, Matuska A, Hon S, Delco M, Cole B, Fortier L. Proteomic analysis and cell viability of nine amnion-derived biologics. Orthopedic Research Society Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 2018. https://app.box.com/s/vcx7uw17gupg9ki06i57lno1tbjmzwaf
(3) Panero, A, Hirahara, A., Andersen, W, Rothenberg J, Fierro, F. Are Amniotic Fluid Products Stem Cell Therapies? A Study of Amniotic Fluid Preparations for Mesenchymal Stem Cells With Bone Marrow Comparison. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 2019 47(5), 1230–1235. https://doi.org/10.1177/0363546519829034