More than 700 chiropractors and chiropractic students from across the nation gathered in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to urge Congress to support the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act, legislation that would give Medicare beneficiaries improved coverage of non-drug services for pain relief, potentially helping some to avoid using prescription opioid pain medications.
Boosting support for H.R. 3654, the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act, was a focus this year at the American Chiropractic Association’s (ACA) annual meeting and advocacy event, ACA Engage. The bipartisan Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act would enable beneficiaries to more easily access the chiropractic profession’s broad-based, non-drug approach to pain management.
During a kick-off event, ACA President Robert C. Jones, DC, told attendees, “You are intimately familiar with the issues facing your patients. No one is better to deliver that message [to Capitol Hill].”
Dr. Jones was followed by John Rosa, DC, a nationally-recognized expert on the opioid crisis who serves as a consultant to the White House and federal agencies. Dr. Rosa discussed the positive response to chiropractic he has received in healthcare policy circles where solutions to the opioid crisis are discussed. “We are part of this solution,” he noted.
Dr. Rosa said that chiropractors can offer the added advantage of prevention and health promotion services, such as advice on diet, exercise and injury prevention, which can potentially help patients prevent pain before it starts. “Lifestyle and pain management. We are that missing piece, and we have been for a long time,” he said of the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act.
Speaker Bonnie S. Hillsberg, DC, MHA, MEd, of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Division of Tribal Affairs, explained that opioids are a major problem in the Native American/Alaskan Native community as well, and that chiropractic services can be an important tool in alleviating their reliance on pain medications. “Non-drug approaches have become an important strategy in stemming the national problem of opioid overuse and abuse,” she said.
Rounding out the morning’s line up was Christine Goertz, DC, PhD, chair of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), established as part of the Affordable Care Act to fund research to help patients, caregivers, and healthcare practitioners make evidence-based, patient-centered health care decisions. Dr. Goertz said that she is encouraged not only by ongoing research into chiropractic’s effectiveness but also emerging trends in health care that emphasize providers working collaboratively to help patients, in addition to the progress of the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act.
Additionally, ACA Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy John Falardeau presented the Congressional Health Care Leadership Award to Jessica Burnell, a health policy advisor in the office of Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), lead sponsor of H.R. 3654.