The recently concluded Engage meeting in Washington provided the backdrop for chiropractic’s day on Capitol Hill, with more than 225 congressional meetings taking place in both the House and the Senate. All the meetings focused one priority: Promoting support for reintroduction of the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act, legislation designed to provide greater chiropractic access to beneficiaries.
The new congressional landscape, especially in the House, sees great support for the Medicare bill. The lead Republican cosponsor last session, Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), is now the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction on Medicare legislation. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is now led by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who has also previously supported the bill.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who introduced the Senate companion bill last session, is poised to again introduce the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act in that chamber. In meeting with Connecticut chiropractors and students at Engage, the message from his staff was clear: Sen. Blumenthal will not only re-introduce the bill but put emphasis on its passage this coming year.
Both the House and the Senate measures garnered wide bipartisan support in the last congress and we expect that trend to continue this year. Many congressional observers see the 155 cosponsor breakdown with the House bill last session — split between 78 Republicans and 77 Democrats — as an anomaly; however, that level of support is a testament to the hard work of ACA leaders and volunteers who worked hard to develop grassroots action at the local level.
In 2023, ACA will be working overtime to build grassroots momentum for the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act and ensure its passage. You will see greater ACA presence at state conventions, chiropractic colleges and other venues, amplifying the message and enlisting support for the bill. You will also see more about the legislation on social media and ACA will build on the plethora of resources available to you, your patients, and legislators. One quick note on this: A senior Capitol Hill staffer recently remarked that our resources are among the best he’s ever seen from an association. This is proof our message is on point and is being heard, but we need to reach more policy makers.
We will work with our congressional champions to get an official Congressional Budget Office “score” or cost estimate, an issue that’s very important for many legislators. We’ll also look to secure support from senior groups and other organizations where Medicare access is vital. Lastly, ACA will work to generate interest in the bill from other like-minded sources, such as chiropractic vendors.
Literally no stone will go unturned in 2023 as ACA focuses on creating full access to chiropractic services for our senior patients and an equitable playing field for our doctors. The momentum at Engage last month was indeed palpable; however, now the work turns to building on that momentum and righting a 50-year wrong. It’s an enormous effort, but one that, in the end, will be groundbreaking for Medicare beneficiaries in your clinic and across the country.
John Falardeau is ACA senior vice president of public policy and advocacy.