By Robert C. Jones, DC, ACA President
Forty-seven years is a long time to work toward anything. Yet that’s what the chiropractic profession has been doing since 1972, the year chiropractic services were first included in the Medicare program. Back then, Medicare beneficiaries were covered for one—just one—chiropractic service: manual manipulation of the spine. To this day, not much has changed.
This week, bipartisan legislation championed by ACA and introduced in Congress by Reps. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act of 2019 (H.R. 3654) would correct this longstanding oversight and give seniors access to the full array of Medicare services that their doctors of chiropractic are qualified and licensed to provide in their respective states.
For America’s seniors who are also chiropractic patients, this will mean less out-of-pocket costs and logistical hassles. No more getting adjusted by your chiropractor and then having to schedule another appointment, on another day, with a different provider, for a service your chiropractor is licensed to provide and could have effectively rendered at the time of the first appointment.
It’s important to point out that the bill does not add any new services to Medicare, and therefore does not increase the taxpayer burden. It simply enables beneficiaries to choose which provider they get their services from. Giving patients more choice is better health care.
For doctors of chiropractic, the bill would fully recognize DCs as “physicians” in the Medicare program, acknowledging their level of education as well as the level of care they provide, and also bringing coverage of their services in line with how other physicians in the Medicare program are treated. At this time, DCs are the only physician-level providers whose services are arbitrarily restricted by statute.
Noting previous issues with chiropractic documentation, H.R. 3654 would require chiropractors who wish to be reimbursed for Medicare services allowed under their state scope of practice to simply watch an online webinar to qualify.
Let’s Get This Bill Passed!
As you read this, my hope is that you are asking, “What can I do?” Consider taking action in one or more of the following ways:
- Contact your representatives and ask that they cosponsor H.R.3654. It’s critical at this time that the bill gains more cosponsors. The more cosponsors, the greater the chances are the bill will get passed. Click here to contact your representative.
- Contact your state association. Encourage them to support the bill and donate to the National Chiropractic Legal and Legislative Action Fund (NCLAF).
- If you are not an ACA member, consider joining. Joining ACA means joining all of us in speaking to Congress in one, clear voice.
- Talk to your patients. Urge them to contact their representatives in support of H.R. 3654 by visiting ACA’s legislative action center online.
For more information about H.R. 3654 and Medicare parity, click here. Check this page throughout the process for updates.