November 20, 2018—Legislation championed by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) to expand Medicare coverage of services provided by chiropractors within the scope of their license has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill, H.R. 7157, introduced on Nov. 16 by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), would allow Medicare beneficiaries to access the chiropractic profession’s broad-based, non-drug approach to pain management, which includes manual manipulation of the spine and extremities, joint mobilization, soft-tissue massage techniques, physiological therapies, exercise instruction and activity advice. Access to non-drug approaches to pain management in Medicare as well as private health care plans has become increasingly important in the wake of the nationwide opioid crisis. The bill adds no new services; it only allows access to those current Medicare benefits that chiropractors are licensed to provide.
“Medicare’s impact on quality senior health care is significant—and will become more so as the baby boomer generation continues to age and enter Medicare’s ranks. The American Chiropractic Association is encouraged by the progress that this bill represents for our efforts to expand seniors’ access to the chiropractic profession’s safe and effective non-drug approach to pain management,” said ACA President N. Ray Tuck, Jr., DC.
Since 1972, the year chiropractic was first made available in the Medicare program, until today, Medicare beneficiaries have been covered for only one chiropractic service—manual manipulation of the spine—forcing them to access additional medically necessary care from other types of providers or to pay out of pocket for the services from their chiropractor. This has created financial and logistical burdens for many seniors. Chiropractors are the only physician-level providers in the Medicare program whose services are restricted in this manner.
The federal Medicare program, which serves as a model for private insurance plans, currently serves more than 55 million individuals. Various projections forecast the number of people age 65 or older increasing by about one-third over the next decade.