February 11, 2015 — At the urging of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), two new bipartisan bills were introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to further incorporate doctors of chiropractic (DCs) into the nation’s military and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare systems.
Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) introduced H.R. 802, bipartisan legislation that would provide TRICARE recipients with access to DCs, as well as services to manage pain and address neuromusculoskeletal disorders and related illnesses. Services provided by DCs are currently only available to active-duty troops at 60 military treatment facilities in the United States and at bases in Germany and Japan.
“Congress needs to ensure that the services delivered by DCs are available to retirees, dependents, and survivor beneficiaries in the military TRICARE system, a benefit that is now available to many in the private sector,” ACA President Anthony Hamm, DC, FACO, said. “This inequity has resulted in medically retired servicemen and women losing their chiropractic benefits immediately upon discharge.”
Additionally, Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced S. 398, “The Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act,” a bill that would integrate the services of DCs at all major VA medical facilities over several years and codify chiropractic as a standard benefit for veterans accessing VA care.
Although the VA currently provides access to a DC at just over 50 major VA treatment facilities within the country, a great number of America’s eligible veterans continue to be denied access to chiropractic. The VA has no DCs on staff at a majority of the VA’s health facilities, and referrals to chiropractic services outside the VA system are rarely provided at these and other locations.
“Congress should enact legislation to eliminate disparities in veterans’ access to chiropractic services,” Hamm said. “Veterans deserve access to the essential services provided by doctors of chiropractic, especially since a great number of returning overseas veterans are suffering from musculoskeletal ailments. Who better to treat these brave men and women than chiropractic physicians?”
According to ACA’s Department of Government Relations, the 2015 National Chiropractic Leadership Conference (NCLC), Feb. 25-28 in Washington, D.C., will serve as a major lobbying opportunity to build support for these bills. Additionally, all chiropractic physicians and students are encouraged to visit ACA’s Legislative Action Center to directly contact their member of Congress ahead of NCLC 2015 and urge them to co-sponsor and support enactment of these bills.