Feb. 14, 2018—A bill introduced last week in the House of Representatives and supported by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) would expand access to chiropractic services to military retirees, dependents and survivors through the Department of Defense TRICARE health program.
The legislation (H.R. 4973), introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), would not only enable those who currently receive chiropractic care to continue their treatment but would also establish, in the wake of the nationwide opioid crisis, an important non-drug option for pain management in the program.
“Chiropractors have become valued members of the military health care team. Their non-drug, non-addictive and noninvasive approach to pain management has proven effective in helping members of the military to recover from injuries, manage chronic pain and enhance their readiness for duty,” said ACA President David Herd, DC. “This bill would ensure that military retirees and military family members have access to the same quality care.”
Chiropractic services were first made available to active-duty military personnel following the enactment in 2000 of legislation to create a permanent chiropractic benefit within the Department of Defense health care system. As part of the pilot program before full implementation, retirees, dependents and survivors were also granted access to chiropractic services on a space-available basis. At the time, it was found that the benefit was valued within the TRICARE community. Today, chiropractic is available only to active-duty service members at more than 60 military treatment facilities in the United States, as well as bases in Germany and Japan.
Chiropractors focus on disorders of the musculoskeletal system, most often treating complaints such as back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs and headaches. Widely known for their expertise in spinal manipulation, chiropractors are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, and to provide dietary and lifestyle counseling.