Guest Editorial: Chiropractic demonstration report: Partly sunny with a chance of rain
By Jeff Brown, DC
After reviewing the Report to Congress on the Evaluation of the Demonstration of Coverage of Chiropractic Services Under Medicare [inhalation], I don’t have the warm and fuzzy feeling others are reporting. In particular, the cover letter, dated January 14, 2010, sent with the report to both Joe Biden (Senate) and Nancy Pelosi (House) from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, made almost no mention of the hugely positive patient satisfaction findings other chiropractic organizations are highlighting.
The cover letter did report, however, that the chiropractic demonstration project actually increased cost to Medicare and was not budget neutral, something all chiropractors were hoping for. Meaning, the extra money spent on expanded chiropractic services was not paid for by a savings in other areas. It would have been nice to finally say, once and for all, chiropractic care saves Medicare money, however, we can not…yet.
In the age of health reform and deficit talk, I’m afraid no one on capitol hill is going to look beyond the following: “Overall, the demonstration led to higher total Medicare reimbursements for services provided for NMS diagnoses, indicating that expenditure for expanded chiropractic services were not offset by Part A or Part B savings.”
Yes, it is true the report also says further analysis is warranted and potential savings do still exist, however, I think the happiness of chiropractic patients, as demonstrated by the report, will be greatly overshadowed by dollars and cents if/when congress takes on the chiropractic expansion issue.
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