September 26, 2018—Earlier this year, on June 25, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed into law a bill that had been progressing since the beginning of the state’s legislative session, authorizing MaineCare to reimburse evaluation and management examinations. Previously, the program only covered the direct treatment of vertebral misalignments.
This expansion of coverage appears to have only modest impact on MaineCare funding, as the state’s allotted portion of the expense will be approximately $67,000 from the general fund, and the federal component will be about twice that amount at $122,000. The executive director of the Maine Chiropractic Association informed legislators that this expansion would facilitate MD referrals to conservative care and help patients mitigate the risk of addictive pain medications.
To put the issue in perspective, the national opioid-related overdose death rate is 13.3 per 100,000 persons. But in 2016, Maine recorded a rate of 55—nearly four times the national average, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This is partly why the state is receiving slightly more than $2 million in federal grant aid to combat the crisis directly.
Maine has seen a decrease in the number of opioid prescriptions being issued by doctors, as reported by the state’s Bureau of Insurance, yet the rate of opioid deaths continues to climb—particularly exacerbated by the introduction of fentanyl trafficking. Unlike other states that are also grappling with these problems, the problem in Maine appears to be exacerbated by a lack of resources and an inability to arrive at a consensus regarding the most effective responses, according to an investigative report by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.
It should be noted that the Maine Medical Association has prepared a legislative report, Progress Report and 2018 Legislative Opportunities related to the Maine Opiate Collaborative Recommendations, which sets out a broad range of programs and policies that would likely have a positive effect on substance abuse trends in the state. Lawmakers, however, have only made significant progress toward four of the 30 recommendations; namely, those aimed reducing the number of opioid prescriptions.
With this acknowledgement that chiropractic can be part of the solution to the opioid crisis, Maine joins other states like Ohio, which also this year expanded Medicaid coverage for acupuncture services provided by doctors of chiropractic and also by certified acupuncturists.
Source: Chiropractic Economics Staff