NEW JERSEY: Chiropractors Sue To Block Insurance Rules
A group of New Jersey chiropractors filed suit in U.S. District Court in Camden, NJ, yesterday to block new state insurance regulations designed to cut automobile insurance premiums from going into effect. Chiropractic America says "cookie-cutter" medical protocols implemented under the Whitman administration regulations would "eliminate the ability of auto accident victims to receive therapeutic chiropractic care," and would "require all New Jersey health care providers to follow rigid pre-determined medical protocols" (release, 11/4). At issue are portions of a law Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) signed earlier this year which detail "descriptions of treatment allowed for certain injuries, called 'care paths.'" The AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the law also excluded from coverage certain medical tests and spinal subluxation -- "the core of chiropractic medicine" (Ginsberg, 11/5). The Whitman administration contends that the rules are needed to combat fraudulent claims that have contributed to New Jersey having the most expensive car insurance in the nation. Saying the new rules will cut rates 15%, the administration maintains that the regulations will not compromise patient care, only "eliminate unnecessary medical treatments" (Martello, AP/Boston Globe, 11/5).
Baby With The Bathwater
Richard Jaffe, attorney for the chiropractors, said of the state's decision, "It's not good public policy, and it's not good medicine." Jaffe continued, "I'm not saying there haven't been abuses ... but they're throwing out the baby with the bathwater." The chiropractors' suit "demands the state use chiropractic standards already accepted by the state Board of Chiropractic Examiners for the new insurance system" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/5). The suit also claims that in developing the rules, the administration "leaned on a paid consultant rather than medical and chiropractic societies to develop the rules." Whitman spokesperson Pete McDonough "repeated an administration charge that the rules are opposed by those who make the most money off the system." He said, "The fact that the people who are milking the insurance system the most would try to overturn regulations before they have gone through their final form is an indication of just how greedy they are" (AP/Boston Globe, 11/5). Winnie Comfort, spokesperson for the insurance department, said the state "would be filing a response to the suit that says the claim 'doesn't have a lot of merit.'" She said, "We think the regulations are valuable, and we stand behind them" (Inquirer, 11/5). The AP/Globe reports, however, that the administration is examining the matter. The insurance department yesterday held a hearing on the rules, at which the Medical Society of New Jersey "proposed a series of changes its leaders believe would turn the new rules into 'flexible guidelines, and not rigid requirements'" (11/5).