March 16, 2011 — Two chiropractors and a patient, backed by the Arizona Chiropractic Society (ACS), recently filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Insurance (ADOI) alleging failure to enforce the chiropractic insurance equality law, ARS 20-461(A)17 and ARS 20-461(B).
This law requires insurers give patients the option to use their health insurance to see either a medical, osteopathic, or chiropractic doctor for treatment of common neck and back problems and pay the same copays and deductibles with the same overall limitations on treatment.
At the current time, the ACS feels that copays, deductibles, and other limitations for chiropractic care discriminate severely against chiropractic care with financial barriers so huge that insurers, led by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, basically force patients to choose MDs or DOs for back and neck pain.
ADOI, despite hundreds of consumer complaints over multiple blatant violations, has refused to enforce this law, which only they have the legal authority to enforce. Therefore, this legal action is asking the courts to order ADOI to properly enforce the law. Technically, it is called a “Writ of Mandamus” or a “Special Action.”
For decades, ending in 1987, the American Medical Association (AMA) worked with insurance companies, primarily BCBS plans, to “contain and eliminate” the chiropractic profession.
In 1987, Federal Judge Susan Getzendanner, issued a Permanent Injunction Order against the AMA, No. 76C3777 in Wilk v. AMA, ordering the AMA to halt all of its illegal anti-competitive activity aimed at destroying an economic competitor, the chiropractic profession.
Since that time, chiropractors have consistently alleged that insurance companies, primarily BCBS plans, under the direction of medical physicians, have continued the AMA’s work by trying to narrow or eliminate benefits for chiropractic care.
In order to ensure healthcare freedom of choice, state legislatures have responded by passing insurance equality laws giving patients the freedom to use their insurance benefits for either medical or chiropractic care for conditions covered by their insurance and within the scope of practice of a chiropractor. Legislators have recognized the value of relieving pain through chiropractic instead of first treating with potentially addictive narcotic drugs and extremely expensive spinal injections and surgeries.
Arizona, therefore, has such a law passed by a bipartisan majority in 1990. The forces wishing to reestablish a monopoly for medical doctors have prevailed in recent years, however, and so the law has not been enforced. The only recourse for the chiropractic profession is this lawsuit to force ADOI to enforce the law.
For extensive additional information, visit the Arizona Chiropractic Society website. If you have any questions, contact Alan M. Immerman, DC, ACS president and executive director, at 602-368-9496 or ACS@AZChiropractors.org.
Source: Arizona Chiropractic Society, www.azchiropractors.org