Medicare Parity: A Call to Arms

Chairman's Message

Author: Richard Bruns, DC/Thursday, January 21, 2016/Categories: June/July 2015

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By Ric Bruns, DC

In the last meeting of ACA’s House of Delegates in February 2015, a priority was established to pursue statutory change in Medicare. The language written decades ago limiting DCs to a single service, while at the same time designating us as physicians, is increasingly interfering with our ability to serve our patients. This language also limits our ability to collect data that speak to the evidence and outcomes of the chiropractic profession. The outdated language limits the benefits that our patients can realize from access to all of the services the chiropractic physicians are trained and tested competent to provide. Other professions are allowed to practice to the limits of their state licensure, and we need to bring our statutory language in line with the contemporary practice of chiropractic as well.

These same services are allowed to be performed by other providers and the limiting language only serves to prevent patients from accessing those same services from chiropractic physicians. There should be no increase in costs from these changes, only increased competition. The statute has also made it difficult to work with CMS and the MACs to change rules and has complicated our error rate as determined by the OIG (i.e., functioning under rules related to the limiting language in the statute). So change must occur.

Attacking the problem from many different aspects is necessary. As with state legislation, we must first establish a grassroots network. ACA has established its online ChiroVoice, which can activate anyone who loves chiropractic and wants to fight to end discrimination via an email network. This includes chiropractic physicians, staff, family and friends and patients. I once had a legislator tell me that if he got more than five letters or phone calls in a day on a particular subject, it was a landslide of opinion. Can you imagine if on the day we are trying to change the Medicare statute that hundreds of thousands of emails flooded the House and Senate? This could be achieved through ChiroVoice, but we need all of you to sign up everyone you know, especially your patients. It’s very simple, so just watch the video at www.chirovoice.org/doctors. The information can be collected and entered very quickly. The emails collected in your state can be used for state issues as well or just to disseminate important healthcare information. You can sign up for ChiroVoice at www.chirovoice.org.

Martin Luther King Jr. realized that to end discrimination you have to activate passionate people. His good work in his 1963 march on Washington, D.C., with his “I Have a Dream” speech, was a prime example of mobilization to end discrimination. ChiroVoice is our virtual march on Washington. Let’s end this discriminatory statute.

Another important first step is to establish “key contacts” with legislators, and even the White House. Many of you have relationships with your national representatives that the ACA does not know about. Please contact John Falardeau, senior vice president of government relations, at jfalardeau@acatoday.org and tell him about your key contact or someone you know who has a relationship with a legislator and is willing to help get the message out to legislators that the chiropractic Medicare statute must change to the benefit of all concerned. Your contact could be the person ACA needs to tip the scales.

The time has come to unite in this effort. Arguably this could be the single biggest achievement in our lifetimes. It will not happen if the profession chooses to sit on the sidelines. So take these initial steps today, and join us in reforming language that prevents patients from receiving services from their chiropractic physicians that are essential to health and wellness and that they so desperately need. 
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