CHIROPRACTIC: Bill Would Require Medicare Reimbursement
Rep. Wes Watkins (R-OK) has introduced a bill that would require Medicare to reimburse doctors of chiropractic for the full scope of services they are licensed to provide under state law. Watkins said, "I am a believer in chiropractic. It has been an important component of good health for myself and millions of Americans, and it ought to be more widely available to Medicare beneficiaries." Under current regulations, Medicare patients have access only to manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation. American Chiropractic Association President Michael Pedigo said that this limit "has deprived both beneficiaries and the program itself of the health benefits and cost savings that might result from full and open competition between chiropractors and other Medicare providers. Numerous research and actuarial studies all point to the fact that chiropractic services could save the Medicare program billions of dollars each year."
An Option, Not an Addition
According to the ACA, the Chiropractic Patients' Freedom of Choice Act (HR 1046) would not add or require coverage of a single new service under the Medicare program. Rather, where there is overlap between the services Medicare covers and the services chiropractors are licensed to perform, beneficiaries would be able to obtain the care from a chiropractor. Pedigo said, "The concept embodied in this proposal is nothing new. ... It is time for Medicare to get in step with the health care innovations taking place in the states by adopting a similar patient freedom of choice proposal" (ACA release, 3/11).