The concept that all physicians should be treated equally when it comes to reimbursement for the services that they are trained and licensed to provide has been one of the paramount issues in ACA for decades. The ACA has fought to preserve physician status with third-party payers and has long recognized the importance of the doctor of chiropractic or chiropractic physician language in state laws and regulations. There have often been organized efforts to remove these designations from our profession and replace them with a designation as “other provider,” a diminution, if you will, from being doctor or physician. We have seen this from the medical profession, third-party payers and government entities often enough to realize that it is no random coincidence. The importance of the language we use should not be lost on us. The danger of how it can be used against us is even more important. We must choose our words wisely
The efforts in the past of organized medicine and later, the insurance industry to marginalize the DC degree and limit access to chiropractic services have a devastating effect on the health and wellness of chiropractic patients. Financial barriers, limitations on services, unreasonable interpretation of documentation requirements that exceed those of other professions and the limitation of state practice acts by special interest groups seeking to contain or eliminate the chiropractic approach to health care are just a few of the tactics.
As time passed, it became evident that health care reform had to take place in the United States, and what has now become known as ObamaCare was signed into law. In that process, a coalition of healthcare professions realized the need for language establishing a level playing field. Whether you are for or against ObamaCare, or as it is formally known, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, none of us can be against the elimination of discriminatory practices directed at our patients. That’s where Section 2706 of the act comes in. Simply put, Section 2706 is designed to bar plans from discriminating against entire classes of providers. We’ve all been told that back pain, for example, is a covered service in a plan, only to learn that patients cannot access a chiropractic physician. Section 2706 will end that practice. Often with reform come great opportunity and great danger. The ACA is your vigilant watchdog and your voice in the effort to end discrimination.
Regardless of how health care reform is changed as time goes on, there is no question that ongoing tweaks will be necessary regardless of which political party is in power. In a perfect world, reform would be based on evidence, clinical judgment and outcomes, and all providers would be judged on their performance and would be allowed to engage in the scope of practice they are qualified and licensed to provide. Other professions are working tirelessly to make sure the language health care reform uses will allow them to practice at the highest levels of their licenses and perform the services that are in the patient’s best interest. We must do the same. State laws will need to be improved; the language used in all aspects of health care perfected and fair treatment of our patients achieved. The ACA is working with all stakeholders to achieve these goals and has spearheaded past, present and future healthcare initiatives designed to advance the profession and benefit our patients.
We are only as strong as our membership and that’s why your membership is vital. We need to grow our ranks, and if each of us recruited one new member this year, we would double our size and strength. Are you ready to walk the walk and talk the talk and use the language? The past, present and future of healthcare reform have always been in your hands. Take an action step today that allows us to take what we’ve learned and get what our patients need in healthcare reform.