June 11, 2014 — The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), in comments submitted June 9 to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), strongly defends provider non-discrimination language included in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) as essential to quality patient care and genuine reform. ACA maintains that Congress’ intent is clear in this matter and that states and insurers should be pressed to adhere to the law as written, which will improve patient access to quality care and reduce costs.
The comments submitted by ACA are part of the profession’s on-going campaign to ensure the proper enforcement and aggressive implementation of that part of the health reform law aimed at curbing discriminatory abuses against the chiropractic profession and other non-MD healthcare professionals, and they complement a series targeted lobbying and grassroots activities that seeks a robust non-discrimination requirement enforceable in all 50 states.
“The ability for patients to actually take a role in choosing the provider of their choice is integral in the further implementation of PPACA,” ACA President Anthony Hamm, DC, wrote as part of ACA’s formal comments. “If improving the patient experience, value, and positive outcomes are indeed the pillars of health reform, Section 2706(a) should be considered a linchpin to the Act’s success.”
The comments received by HHS from ACA and other groups on PPACA’s non-discrimination provision (Section 2706) will be used to devise further guidance for states as they continue to implement the federal healthcare reform law locally.
Proper implementation of the law has been hampered in part by flawed information distributed last year by the HHS Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), which led some states to limit patient access to qualified health care providers, including chiropractic physicians, based solely on the providers’ licenses, in direct contradiction to the intent of Congress.
ACA specifically urges HHS to repeal the flawed set of Frequently Asked Questions on Section 2706 prepared by the CCIIO, noting that “it has caused nothing but confusion and chaos, especially at the state level.”
The Senate Committee on Appropriations issued similar language on July 11, 2013, in support of a revision of the FAQ on Section 2706, noting that the original document falsely gives insurers the impression that they can exclude whole categories of providers based on licensure.
“The goal of this provision is to ensure that patients have the right to access covered healthcare services from the full range of providers licensed and certified in their state,” the Senate report stated.
According to ACA officials, HHS will likely take some action to “clarify” and/or replace the flawed FAQ language issued in 2013, and they estimate potential corrective action will likely take place before the end of this year. Until or unless the issue is finalized in a manner acceptable to the ACA, and fully in keeping with the law’s original intent, the ACA will continue its campaign to ensure the proper implementation of Section 2706.