January 30, 2009 — The $800 billion economic stimulus bill now making its way through Congress may positively impact chiropractic by providing increased funding for issues such as health information technology and clinical effectiveness research, as well as give a boost to health prevention and wellness programs.
“President Obama has indicated that he would like to see the economic stimulus bill on his desk by mid- to late-February,” said ACA President Dr. Glenn Manceaux. “While we expect partisan debate and Republican opposition to many aspects of the bill, Senate passage of this legislation is highly likely. We are optimistic that the bill will positively impact many aspects of the chiropractic profession.”
As the House-passed bill currently stands, it would provide $20 billion to implement computerized health record systems for public insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and would pay private physicians to do the same. Individual physicians would receive up to $65,000 for establishing an electronic record system. Physicians not using electronic health records by 2016 may face reduced Medicare payments.
According to ACA staff members, the bill defines “physician” using Social Security Act Sec. 1861 (r), which is also the Medicare definition. This would allow for DC-inclusion in the aforementioned electronic health record incentive program. The details of program funding and parameters are still forthcoming and much of the money for the incentive program will not be appropriated until 2010.
“The inclusion of doctors of chiropractic in federal incentive programs regarding electronic health records has been a central focal point of the ACA-led Patients Access to Responsible Care Alliance (PARCA), a coalition comprised of non-MD/DO providers. We have been lobbying for this inclusion, and right now, we are included in the program,” Dr. Manceaux said.
Two additional areas in which there are significant opportunities for chiropractic are listed under both the House and Senate Appropriations section of the bill. Within this section there is money for a Prevention and Wellness Initiative (House: $3 billion, Senate: $5.8 billion) and for Comparative Effectiveness Research (House and Senate both funded at $1.1 billion), which is aimed at finding the best procedures and practices for specific ailments.
Source: American Chiropractic Association, www.amerchiro.org