Posted on Nov 21, 2018

House Introduces Bill to Expand Medicare Coverage of Chiropractic Services

Arlington, VA -- Legislation championed by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) to expand Medicare coverage of services provided by chiropractors within the scope of their license has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill, H.R. 7157, introduced on Nov. 16 by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), would allow  Medicare beneficiaries to access the chiropractic profession’s broad-based, non-drug approach to pain management, which includes manual manipulation of the spine and extremities, joint mobilization, soft-tissue massage techniques, physiological therapies, exercise instruction and activity advice. Access to non-drug approaches to pain management in Medicare as well as private health care plans has become increasingly important in the wake of the nationwide opioid crisis. The bill adds no new services; it only allows access to those current Medicare benefits that chiropractors are licensed to provide.

“Medicare's impact on quality senior health care is significant—and will become more so as the baby boomer generation continues to age and enter Medicare’s ranks. The American Chiropractic Association is encouraged by the progress that this bill represents for our efforts to expand seniors’ access to the chiropractic profession’s safe and effective non-drug approach to pain management,” said ACA President N. Ray Tuck, Jr., DC.

Since 1972, the year chiropractic was first made available in the Medicare program, until today, Medicare beneficiaries have been covered for only one chiropractic service—manual manipulation of the spine—forcing them to access additional medically necessary care from other types of providers or to pay out of pocket for the services from their chiropractor. This has created financial and logistical burdens for many seniors. Chiropractors are the only physician-level providers in the Medicare program whose services are restricted in this manner.

The federal Medicare program, which serves as a model for private insurance plans, currently serves more than 55 million individuals. Various projections forecast the number of people age 65 or older increasing by about one-third over the next decade.




Senate Introduces Bill to Expand Chiropractic Access to Military Retirees, National Guard

Arlington, VA -- A bill introduced today in the U.S. Senate and supported by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) would expand access to chiropractic services to military retirees as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve through the Department of Defense TRICARE health program.

The legislation, "The Chiropractic Health Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act" (S. 3620), introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), would not only enable those who currently receive chiropractic care to continue their treatment, but would also establish, in the wake of the nationwide opioid crisis, an important non-drug option for pain management in the TRICARE program.

“Chiropractors have become valued members of the military healthcare team. Their non-drug, non-addictive and noninvasive approach to pain management is particularly relevant today for military personnel who wish to avoid the risk of addiction from prescription opioid pain medications,” said ACA President N. Ray Tuck, Jr., DC. “This latest legislation would ensure that military retirees as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve utilizing the TRICARE system continue to have access to the same quality chiropractic care for their pain.”

Chiropractic services were first made available to active-duty military personnel following the enactment in 2000 of legislation creating a permanent chiropractic benefit within the Department of Defense health care system. As part of the benefit’s pilot program, before full implementation, retirees were also granted access to chiropractic services on a space-available basis. The benefit was valued within the TRICARE community at the time. Today, however, chiropractic care is available only to active-duty service members at more than 60 military treatment facilities in the United States, as well as bases in Germany and Japan.

Chiropractors focus on disorders of the musculoskeletal system, most often treating complaints such as back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs and headaches. Widely known for their expertise in spinal manipulation, chiropractors are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, and to provide dietary and lifestyle counseling.

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