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Higgins & Reed introduce Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act of 2019

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Wed, Jul 10th 2019 06:35 pm

House legislation would give Medicare patients full access to chiropractic care, offer non-drug alternatives for pain management

This week, Congressmen Brian Higgins and Tom Reed introduced the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act of 2019. The legislation would provide patients enrolled in Medicare with access to the full range of licensed services provided by doctors of chiropractic (DCs).

Chiropractic care was first allowed by Medicare in 1972. Since then, the only service that Medicare can reimburse has been manual manipulation of the spine. The program does not allow for chiropractic practices like joint mobilization, physiological therapies, soft tissue massage techniques, and other treatments, which are covered by private sector health coverage plans and other federal health delivery systems such as the VA. The American College of Physicians recently updated its guidelines on lower back pain treatment to suggest using non-drug treatments, like those offered by a chiropractor, before prescription drugs.

Higgins said, “Thirty-five million Americans receive chiropractic care each year, and seniors in the Medicare program should have the option of continuing the same drug-free pain management options that they prefer through their Medicare coverage. This legislation would accomplish that.”

Higgins’ district includes D’Youville College in Buffalo, while Reed’s district includes New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls – two of fewer than 20 colleges offering accredited chiropractic programs in the nation.

“We care about ensuring people receive the care they need from their chiropractor,” Reed said. “We see no reason why Medicare should not update their guidelines so people can access the treatments they need to live a pain free life without the use of painkillers.”

There are more than 70,000 licensed DCs in the U.S. Over 30 national and state organizations, including the American Chiropractic Association and the New York State Chiropractic Association, support the effort to expand chiropractic coverage under Medicare. 

“The American Chiropractic Association applauds Reps. Brian Higgins and Tom Reed for supporting this legislation and recognizing the need to update Medicare’s chiropractic coverage to meet the needs of today’s beneficiaries. Seniors are a rapidly growing patient population and many of them suffer from chronic pain. This bill allows them to choose their qualified provider when they seek help,” said ACA President Dr. Robert C. Jones.

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