The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) released a statement this week regarding its intent to continue the fight to stop Medicare reimbursement cuts for chiropractors into 2021.
“A critical component of ACA’s government relations work is safeguarding and advancing public trust in chiropractic — and this is at the forefront of our work with policymakers,” wrote Meghan O’Brien, the ACA’s associate director of federal government relations in a blog on Wednesday.
The Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act of 2019 (H.R. 3654) is legislation championed by the ACA to increase Medicare coverage of chiropractic services, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last year. It would allow Medicare beneficiaries access to the chiropractic profession’s broad-based, non-drug approach to pain management, which includes manual manipulation of the spine and extremities, evaluation and management services, diagnostic imaging and utilization of other non-drug approaches that have become an important strategy in national efforts to stem the epidemic of prescription opioid overuse and abuse.
- Appropriately defines a doctor of chiropractic (DC) as a “physician” in the Medicare program.
- Provides patient access to all Medicare-covered benefits allowable under a chiropractor’s state licensure.
- Requires that DCs complete a documentation webinar.
- Is bipartisan legislation, introduced by Reps. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.).
To best serve their senior patients, the ACA says, chiropractic physicians must be allowed to practice and be reimbursed to the fullest extent of their licensure, training and competencies.
“Since the chiropractic profession was first included in Medicare in 1972, doctors of chiropractic (DC) and their patients have been burdened by arbitrary limitations that lack any scientific or sound policy justification,” the ACA states on its website. “Research demonstrating positive patient outcomes and cost effectiveness resulting from chiropractic care have advanced private coverage and state licensures to meet patient needs…Chiropractic inclusion in the Medicare program was established in 1972 and has seen little change since then, other than elimination of the X-ray requirement in 1997.”
In late 2019 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Rule, which increased Medicare payment for office/outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) and CPT codes, while subjecting certain providers — including doctors of chiropractic — to significant and unjustifiable decreases in Medicare reimbursement.
“As with any federal budget change, we were not the only ones concerned by the harm these reductions would do to Medicare beneficiaries,” wrote the ACA’s O’Brien. “Thankfully, ACA — as the only widely recognized chiropractic association on capitol hill and in the federal agencies — maintains collaborative and professional relationships with our colleagues who represent other physician and provider groups in Washington, D.C. Since the release of the final rule, ACA has partnered with nearly 50 other organizations and has taken steps to stop the implementation of these reimbursement reductions. We helped to form a powerful, diverse coalition of providers (which is an important part of government relations work) and met with CMS officials in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The group brainstormed and collaborated on potential regulatory fixes and is now urging Congress to utilize its power to waive the budget neutrality requirements in the final rule before its implementation on Jan. 1, 2021.”
To read the full blog on the ACA’s battle to stop Medicare reimbursement cuts for chiropractors go to acatoday.org/News-Publications/Publications/ACA-Blogs/ArtMID/6925/ArticleID/1581/ACA-Fights-to-Stop-Medicare-Reimbursement-Cuts-in-2021.