“Op Ed” - WORKING HEADLINE:  Freedom of Choice, a Victory for RI Healthcare

By Dr. Michael Gottfried, President of Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island

Hats off to the Rhode Island General Assembly for furthering the interests of health care consumers in the Ocean State by passing a health care provider nondiscrimination bill in the 2015 legislative session.  The bill, which is identical to a provision enacted by Congress as part of Obamacare and commonly referred to as “section 2706,” prohibits health plans from discriminating against “any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider's license or certification under applicable state law.”  In addition to ending discrimination in our health care system, this component creates more options for consumers; thus increasing competition in the marketplace.  Such wisdom has always lowered the overall costs of products and services in any industry.

What does the passage of a mini-2706 bill for Rhode Island mean for health care consumers?  Plenty.  It ensures that patients have the right to access covered health services from the full range of providers licensed and certified in this state.  This includes, among others, chiropractic physicians who are licensed to provide services in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and to treat conditions affecting the structure and function of the body within the parameters of the chiropractic scope of practice statute.  Gone are the days when the various services provided by chiropractic physicians and other providers could be singled out for coverage discrimination by arbitrary caps on services, lower reimbursement rates for the same medically-necessary services provided by other physicians, and higher co-pays designed to discourage patients from treating with the physicians of their choice.  The new law can also be expected to address the anticipated shortage of primary care physicians in this country by enabling consumers to meet their medical needs by treating with chiropractic physicians and providers other than medical doctors and mainstream medicine.

Of course, the new law will only benefit consumers if health plans come into compliance with it.  Every Rhode Islander covered under an individual or group health plan would do well to review their plan documents to make certain that they are receiving the access to care and nondiscriminatory reimbursement terms that both federal and state law now require.

Too often, Rhode Island lags behind other states in enacting legislation that benefits health care consumers.  Hats off to the General Assembly for following the lead of Congress in enacting the state version of the federal health care provider nondiscrimination statute.  This can only mean more, better, less risky, and more cost-efficient access for consumers to a wide array of health care services.    

About Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island (CSRI)

Founded in 1918, CSRI is one of the oldest chiropractic associations in the United States and represents more than 25 percent of the chiropractic physicians in the Ocean State. In addition to providing a regional voice for chiropractors in the business and legislative arenas, CSRI also helps educate the general public on the benefits of chiropractic. Those all-natural benefits can include relief from headaches, asthma, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel, colic, and stress, just to name a few. The Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island is located at 1272 West Main Road, Building 2, Middletown, RI 02842. For more information, call (401) 207-0700 or visit www.RIchiro.org.

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