Chiropractic Services Left Out of Assembly, Senate Budget Plans
The recently released California Senate and Assembly budget plans both exclude funding to restore cuts to chiropractic services under Medi-Cal, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Some lawmakers are questioning whether the plans leave out extra funding for chiropractic services because of the California Chiropractic Association's opposition toward a bill (SB 277) that would end personal belief exemptions to the state's childhood vaccination requirements (Adler, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 5/27).
Details of Assembly, Senate Budget Plans
Democrats in the California Senate and Assembly have released separate budget proposals that both assume the state will get about $2.5 billion more in revenue than estimated in Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) revised fiscal year 2015-2016 spending plan (California Healthline, 5/27).
Both plans seek to restore six of seven optional Medi-Cal benefits currently unfunded by the state, including:
- Incontinence creams and washes;
- Optician and optical labs;
- Podiatry; and
- Speech therapy.
According to "KXJZ News," restoring those benefits would cost $15 million. Meanwhile, it would cost an additional $257,000 from the general fund to restore chiropractic services under Medi-Cal, according to the state Department of Finance ("KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 5/27).
The final budget, which would take effect July 1, is due on June 15 (California Healthline, 5/27).
Background on Vaccine Bill
The highly contentious bill that aims to end personal belief exemptions to childhood vaccination requirements is headed to the Assembly after the state Senate voted 25-10 to approve the measure (California Healthline, 5/21).
The bill, which would allow exemptions for medical reasons, was amended to:
- Allow unvaccinated children to enroll in private home-schooling programs that serve multiple families, rather than programs that serve just one family;
- Permit such children to participate in independent study projects that are overseen by school districts but do not include classroom time; and
- Remove a provision that would have required schools to inform parents of immunization rates (California Healthline, 5/15).
In March, CCA told state lawmakers that opposing the vaccine measure is at the top of the group's legislative agenda.
CCA President Brian Stenzler said, "Chiropractors themselves choose to become chiropractors because they like to live a more natural lifestyle, free of drugs and surgery when possible," adding that the notion of "forced medical procedures goes against a lot of chiropractors' own personal values" (California Healthline, 3/9).
The California Medical Association, which supporters the bill, has accused CCA of encouraging opponents to harass the bill's other supporters. CCA has denied such allegations.
Lack of Funding for Chiropractic Services Questioned
During an Assembly Committee on Budget review on Wednesday, Assembly member Brian Jones (R-Santee) raised concerns that the budget plans might have omitted chiropractic benefits as a way to retaliate against CCA for opposing the vaccine bill, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
Jones noted that he would not "draw any conclusions" but that he wanted to bring attention to the issue (Walters, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/27).
Meanwhile, Assembly member Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) in a letter sent Tuesday to Assembly budget committee Chair Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) also questioned why chiropractors were left out of the payment restorations.
Grove wrote, "As an opponent to SB 277, I am hopeful that the opposition of chiropractors to the bill was not part of the rationale for excluding chiropractors from Medi-Cal provider rate proposal[s]" ("KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 5/27).
Stenzler said CCA is investigating whether the budget proposals reflect punishment against the group.
He said, "If it's true ... it's a sad day when the CMA limits access to health care" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/27).
Democrats Deny Allegations
Democratic state lawmakers who support the spending plans said there was no link between CCA's opposition to SB 277 and the omission of chiropractic services from the proposals, "KXJZ News" reports.
State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) said, "There was just no correlation in my mind between actions of the chiropractors in another highly controversial bill and the actions we took in the budget committee."
Meanwhile, Assembly member Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) said, "I can tell you that without a doubt our adding of those optional benefits had nothing to do with any connection to the issue of immunization" ("KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 5/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.