Patients in Medicare Demonstration Project Give Chiropractors High Marks

For those who are in Medicare or are about to be enrolled, this is a great thing.  The history of chiropractic inclusion in Medicare is that the limited benefit was negotiated in the 1970’s before chiropractic had the widespread acceptance it has now as the top complementary health care profession in the country, if not the world.  It is safe, effective and cost effective and studies support these statements.  Unfortunately, in Medicare, chiropractic is only covered for manipulation and nothing else.  Seniors are required to pay for their own evaluations, x rays and therapies done even though these procedures are paid for when they visit other providers.  Many seniors value chiropractic as the best way to limit their exposure to harmful medications and stay out of pain and active.

Two years ago, after much chiropractic lobbying, Medicare was forced to create a chiropractic demonstration project in a few markets.  The purpose of this was to see if chiropractic would add to the cost, lower the cost or be budget neutral.  The good news is that chiropractic in most areas was chosen instead of other interventions without higher costs and the better news was the level of satisfaction most seniors reported.

What this all means – The American Chiropractic Assn.  now has an opportunity to change the Medicare problem forever which means if you are enrolled in Medicare, you will be covered for everything just as you are when you visit other doctors and it will end the discrimination against chiropractic patients under Medicare.  This is in the public’s best interests and they should have the right to choose chiropractic as their intervention for their health care issues.

If you have seen the nonsense that went on as health care debated, you should realize that full inclusion for chiropractic is an uphill battle.  Last night pres Obama scolded congress for not doing their job and he is right. They are not there to get elected.  They are there to pass laws to help you and I.  Hopefully, chiropractic will be finally fully covered.

Here is the ACA press release for your reading

Patients in Medicare Demonstration Project Give Chiropractors High Marks

According to long-awaited results from a congressionally mandated pilot project testing the feasibility of expanding chiropractic services in the Medicare program, patients have a high rate of satisfaction with the care they receive from doctors of chiropractic.

When asked to rate their satisfaction on a 10-point scale, 87 percent of patients in the study gave their doctor of chiropractic a level of 8 or higher. What’s more, 56 percent of those patients rated their chiropractor with a perfect 10.

Contributing to that satisfaction was the attention given to patients’ needs and the accessibility of chiropractic care. Patients reported that doctors of chiropractic listened to them carefully and spent sufficient time with them. Some 95 percent said they had to wait no longer than one week for appointments.

“Doctors of chiropractic everywhere should feel pride in these patient satisfaction results and in being part of a profession that still sees the great need for spending time with patients and truly listening to them,” said Dr. Rick McMichael, president of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). “It’s clear that patients deeply value the time their chiropractic providers spend with them and the expert care that DCs offer.”   

The pilot, known as a “demonstration project” in Congress, was conducted from April 2005 to March 2007 throughout the states of Maine and New Mexico, and also in Scott County, Iowa, 26 counties comprising the Chicago metropolitan area, and 17 counties in central Virginia.

Current chiropractic coverage under Medicare is limited to spinal manipulation. Under the demonstration project, however, chiropractic care was expanded to include diagnostic and other services, such as X-rays, examinations, physical therapy and rehabilitation services. 

The final report to Congress also includes information on the costs of expanding chiropractic services in the demonstration sites. The report indicates that in all but one of the demonstration sites, patients’ health care costs were not significantly changed by expanding coverage of chiropractic services.  In contrast, a cost increase was found in the Chicago metropolitan area. Further research into the reasons why the results in Chicago differ from the rest of the demonstration project sites is needed to better understand these findings.

“We already know that Medicare costs in general tend to be higher in Chicago than other similar areas of the country. We must find the underlying cause of the cost difference found in the chiropractic demonstration project and determine whether it had anything at all to do with the expansion of chiropractic services,” Dr. McMichael noted.  

To further analyze the results of the demonstration project, ACA is creating a taskforce of Medicare experts and researchers who will review the report and develop a response for the
Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

To view the report online, visit www.acatoday.org/pdf/demo_report.pdf.