This week, U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., introduced a proposal “to provide Medicare coverage for all physicians’ services furnished by doctors of chiropractic care” and “ will ensure Medicare patients have access to chiropractic care as a non-drug alternative for pain management.”
Steube brought out the “Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act” and offered his reasons for introducing it.
“Medicare enrollment in my district has grown every year in the past decade. The 4.8 million Floridians enrolled in Medicare deserve access to all chiropractic services without burdensome red tape. I’m glad to introduce legislation that will provide Medicare beneficiaries with more flexibility in their treatment options and will help lower the risk of individuals turning to opioids for pain management,” said Steube.
More than 20 members of the U.S. House are co-sponsoring the proposal, including U.S. Reps. Mark Alford, R-Mo., Brian Higgins, D-NY, John Larson, D-Ct., and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.
“Millions of Americans use chiropractic care every year,” said Higgins. “Many rely on chiropractic adjustments as part of their pain management plan. This legislation will ensure that all seniors on Medicare, especially those who suffer from chronic pain, have access to this treatment.”
“Chiropractic medicine plays a vital role in many Missourians’ pain management plan. Those individuals should not be burdened by the government to use opioid drugs to treat their ailments. The current hurdles Medicare presents many are unacceptable and must be modified immediately,” said Alford. “This legislation is a vital first step to ensure individuals receive the pain management they deserve. I am proud to join my colleagues in its introduction.”
“I am thrilled to join my colleagues to introduce this legislation that will streamline the process for our nation’s seniors seeking chiropractic care,” said Larson. “Reducing barriers to care makes it easier for seniors to live happy, healthy lives, and this bill would do just that!”
Steube’s office offered some of the details on why the congressman thinks the bill is needed.
“This legislation provides a path for Medicare recipients towards pain management without relying on prescriptions, such as opioids. Among older Medicare beneficiaries with spinal pain, the use of chiropractic care is associated with significantly lower risk of filling an opioid prescription,” Steube’s office noted. “Medicare first began providing beneficiaries access to chiropractic care in 1972. Since then, Medicare has only been able to reimburse services considered ‘medically necessary’ and include burdensome red tape requirements.
“The Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act removes obstacles imposed on Medicare recipients that aren’t required by private insurers, thus expanding Medicare coverage to include access to all chiropractic care. Medicare does not currently 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 like the Department of Veterans Affairs. This legislation will bring Medicare chiropractic coverage more in line with services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, and private health insurance coverage,” Steube’s office added.
The American Chiropractic Association is backing the proposal which was sent to the U.S. House Ways and Means and the Energy and Commerce Committees.
Over in the U.S. Senate, U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Ct., and Kevin Cramer, R-ND, are championing the bill which has five additional co-sponsors.
“Expanding Medicare coverage to chiropractic services will provide seniors with access to affordable, quality care,” said Blumenthal. “Outdated regulations and red tape have blocked beneficiaries living with chronic pain and discomfort from seeking these helpful services – which often serve as a substitute to potentially addictive opioids. Our bipartisan legislation puts patients first – ensuring seniors enrolled in Medicare receive the treatment they need and deserve.”
“Current Medicare restrictions prevent chiropractors from offering a full scope of treatments or ordering diagnostic services for those who need them,” said Cramer. “By reducing these barriers and expanding access to health care services for rural community residents, especially our senior citizens, we can help keep Americans healthy and cared for while preserving non-drug treatment options.”
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