A bill that would update Medicare by increasing its coverage of services provided by chiropractors within the full extent of their licensure has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. HR 3654 (known as the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act of 2019), would align Medicare’s coverage of chiropractic services with that of other federal health care providers and many private health plans.
The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Reps. Brian Higgins (D-NY) (whose district includes D’Youville College in Buffalo) and Tom Reed (R-NY) (whose district includes New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls), would enable beneficiaries to more easily access the chiropractic profession’s broad-based, non-drug approach to pain management, which includes 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.
Congressman Higgins said about the bill: “35 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.”
“We care about ensuring people receive the care they need from their chiropractor,” Congressman 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.”
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 chiropractic services. Chiropractors are the only physician-level providers in the Medicare program whose services are restricted in this manner.
ACA Press Release, “Bill Introduced to Modernize Medicare Coverage of Chiropractic Services,” July 9, 2019
Congressman Brian Higgins and Congressman Tom Reed Press Release, “Higgins and Reed introduce Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act of 2019,” July 9, 2019