By John Falardeau
With the new year and the first session of the 116th Congress underway, the American Chiropractic Association is ready to tackle a number of important legislative issues on behalf of ACA members, patients and the chiropractic profession. Here is a look at our priorities:
- ACA’s No. 1 legislative priority is to push for full inclusion of chiropractic services in the Medicare program.For several years, ACA’s strategy to expand reimbursable services in Medicare has largely been focused on a regulatory fix, which has not yet come to fruition and continues to meet resistance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). While still working on the regulatory front, ACA is applying a legislative approach aimed at enacting appropriate legislation and/or building Capitol Hill support that could be enlisted to pressure the HHS Secretary and CMS to implement the regulatory relief necessary. ACA is also now working with the prestigious Capitol Hill Consulting Group (CHCG), a nationally known lobbying firm that is working to raise ACA’s visibility, credibility and exposure on the Medicare issue before Congress.
- Closely following our Medicare priority is our effort to continue monitoring the ever-changing implementation of health care reform through the regulatory process. This is done chiefly through the administration, and we will continue to take guidance from key congressional allies.We must also continue to watch for any attempts to legislatively edit, amend or repeal our key provisions—especially Section 2706 (the provider anti-discrimination provision)—as it is clear Congress will again look to repeal parts, if not all, of the healthcare bill. The American Medical Association has already, on several occasions, come out in support of repealing Section 2706.
Rounding out 2019-20 priorities:
- Resolution of Department of Defense chiropractic health care benefit program issues, including expansion of the chiropractic benefit for retirees, reservists and National Guard personnel enrolled in the Tricare program. A bill to include these groups was introduced early in the 116th Congress in both the House and the Senate and we are working to ensure provisions are included in each chamber’s larger annual defense authorization bill. We will also work to rectify pay, job and management disparities within the Department of Defense healthcare program.
- Opioid legislation, in some form or fashion, will again be considered in both the House and the Senate, and ACA is prepared to add language similar to what has been passed in West Virginia and Oregon, increasing access to non-opioid alternatives such as chiropractic, to any federal opioid vehicle.
- Continued pursuit of a legislative remedy regarding the commissioning of chiropractors in the Public Health Service commissioned corps.
- Continued pursuit of legislation that will open opportunities for chiropractic students to access student loan repayment programs, most notably chiropractic inclusion in the National Health Service Corps.
- Advocating for passage of a bill to end health insurers’ anti-trust exemption via an amendment to the McCarran-Ferguson Act. Specifically, the House bill passed in the last Congress would declare that nothing in that Act shall modify, impair or supersede the anti-trust laws with respect to the business of health insurance.
John Falardeau is ACA’s senior vice president for public policy and advocacy. Learn more about ACA’s legislative activities at www.acatoday.org/Advocacy or follow us on Twitter for the latest news from @ACAonTheHill.