January 7, 2014 — The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) achieved a surge of advocacy accomplishments on behalf of the chiropractic profession in 2013.
From increased Medicare reimbursement for chiropractic services, to fighting managed care abuses and increasing veterans’ access to the services provided by doctors of chiropractic (DCs), ACA’s strong advocacy record remains intact and will grow stronger in the year ahead following the upcoming 2014 National Chiropractic Legislative Conference (NCLC), Feb. 26-March 2 in Washington, D.C.
ACA’s more significant achievements in 2013 include:
- $60 million Medicare reimbursement increase: Medicare payments to DCs will increase by an estimated $60 million, and the value of Chiropractic Manipulative Treatment CPT® codes will increase up to 10 percent in 2014.
- BCBS Federal Employees Plan defines DCs as physicians without limitation: DCs will no longer have any limitations attached to their definition as physicians under the 2014 Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) Service Benefit Plan.
- VA expansion: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began pilot chiropractic residency programs; and provisions in the Veterans’ Educational Transition Act of 2013 that would significantly increase the numbers of DCs serving at VA facilities, along with codifying chiropractic services as a standard VA benefit, are currently under consideration by the Senate.
- Aetna reverses policy denying same day payment for 97140 and CMT: Aetna reversed a policy that denied separate payment for 97140 when billed with CMT, even when the two procedures were performed to separate regions and when modifiers 25 and 59 were used appropriately.
- Standing firm against Managed Care abuses: A federal judge ruled that a DC may pursue overpayment allegations against United Healthcare (UHC) even though his or her patients may no longer be insured by them-a favorable decision in ACA and related plaintiffs’ class action suit against UHC and Optum Health.
- Medicare coverage of DC evaluation and management services advances: The Department of Health and Human Services is considering reimbursing DCs for evaluation and management services, which would be the biggest potential breakthrough for the profession since chiropractic services were included in Medicare in the early 1970s.
- Challenge to DC physician status repelled but further action required: ACA was a key part of a coalition effort that retained DC physician status in the Senate version of a Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) reform package. ACA has made great strides toward ensuring DC physician status in the House version of the bill, but profession-wide advocacy is still needed.
“On behalf of ACA’s leadership and management team, I extend a heartfelt thank you to the dedicated DCs, CAs, and student volunteers who helped make these crucial advocacy victories possible,” said ACA President Keith Overland, DC. “However, the profession will again be tested in early 2014 as anti-chiropractic lobbyists align to attempt to remove DC physician status under Medicare and to reverse other recent gains.”
ACA and its allies will meet with legislators on Capitol Hill Thursday, Feb. 27 during NCLC 2014 (and they’ll stay in Washington for the more than 20 hours of chiropractic continuing education and professional development). Attendees can register at the early-bird rate until Jan. 24.