The Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island (CSRI) recently announced its support for a bill introduced in the US House, H.R. 3654, known as the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act of 2019. Sponsored by Reps. Brian Higgins (D-NY) and Tom Reed (R-NY), the bipartisan legislation would enable beneficiaries to more easily access the chiropractic profession’s broad-based, non-drug approach to pain management.
The legislation would include access to Medicare-covered services such as 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.
“CSRI has long advocated chiropractic as an alternative to prescription drugs for pain management,” said Dr. Michael Zola, CSRI president. “The Society’s endorsement recognizes the importance of removing barriers so patients can receive appropriate care and ensure chiropractors are respected and valued.”
Since 1972, Medicare beneficiaries have been covered for only one chiropractic service—manual manipulation of the spine—forcing them to access additional medically necessary care from other types of providers or to pay out of pocket for the services from their chiropractor. Chiropractors are the only physician-level providers in the Medicare program whose services are restricted in this manner.
In supporting H.R. 3654, CSRI follows the lead of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), which has come out strongly in favor of the legislation. The legislation, proposed in July, has been referred to the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees respectively.
“We applaud Rep. Higgins and Rep. Reed, who recognize the necessity of modernizing Medicare’s chiropractic coverage to meet the needs of today’s beneficiaries,” added Keith Overland, DC, chairman of the ACA Legislative Advisory Board.
The federal Medicare program currently serves more than 55 million individuals; various projections forecast the number of people age 65 or older increasing by about one-third over the next decade.
“We need this legislation to better serve the growing population of Rhode Island residents in that age bracket,” said Dr. Zola. “We encourage all Rhode Islanders to get behind this legislation. That can start with a call or e-mail to your representatives in Congress to urge the Speaker to put this important legislation at the top of the agenda for Energy and Commerce and the Ways and Means committees.”
Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation includes U.S. Representatives David Cicciline (D) and U.S. Representative Jim Langevin (D). Both can be contacted via their respective websites, https://cicilline.house.gov/ and https://langevin.house.gov/.