October 2, 2009 — After months of intensive negotiations between the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), doctors of chiropractic are once again designated as “physicians” in the BCBSA Federal Employee Plan (FEP), the world’s largest health plan and one that President Obama has identified as a template for future healthcare reform. The 2010 FEP benefits brochure confirms the change.
“We are pleased to report that doctors of chiropractic are in the physician category under the Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employees Benefit Plan, limited only by state scope of practice authorization,” said ACA President Rick McMichael, DC. “The agreement culminates months of negotiations between the ACA and BCBSA and assures that a doctor of chiropractic will be identified and defined as a ‘physician’ in the FEP. This plan has been specifically and repeatedly identified by Congress and President Obama as the template for coverage and recognition in national health care reform. Physician status under this health plan is critical, and ACA action has assured that this status is once again recognized.”
“We believe this action will be viewed by future doctors of chiropractic as a landmark development in the history of this profession, assuring our rightful role as physicians in the national health care system,” Dr. McMichael continued. “Our hats are off to ACA’s Immediate Past President Dr. Glenn Manceaux and past Chairman of the Board Dr. John Gentile, who led the ACA team’s charge in this effort. We call now on all doctors of chiropractic to join us in the battles that still lie ahead.”
It was in January of this year that BCBSA changed the designation of doctors of chiropractic from “physicians” to “other health care providers.” ACA immediately recognized that the change could have a serious impact on whether DCs would be allowed to provide the physician-level services they are educated and licensed to perform—and could even influence whether chiropractic care would later be restricted or completely excluded in a national health care plan using the FEP as a model. ACA promptly contacted BCBSA and requested that the designation be reversed.
While BCBSA stated that the change would not affect benefits, some plans apparently misinterpreted the intent of the change and have restricted services such as examinations, x-rays and therapeutic modalities. In addition, some DCs have been prohibited from referring FEP patients for other services, including diagnostic and physical and occupational therapy services. DCs who are still encountering these problems under the FEP should contact the ACA Insurance Relations Department at Insinfo@acatoday.org.
Source: American Chiropractic Association, www.acatoday.org