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First Phase of Historic Medicare Chiropractic Demonstration Project Comes to a Close

by American Chiropractic Associattion | 4/5/2007 4:37:23 PM

Chiropractors Must Focus on Improving Documentation Error Rate (Arlington, Va.) The first phase of the historic Medicare Chiropractic Demonstration Project will come to a close this weekend, ending a two-year program to collect cost and other data related to an expansion of chiropractic services offered in Medicare. It is ACA’s hope that the demonstration project will prove effective in convincing Congress to enact permanent legislation to reimburse doctors of chiropractic within Medicare for common services beyond manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation, such as exams, plain X-rays, therapy services and clinical lab services. The Medicare Chiropractic Demonstration Project will officially end on March 31, 2007. Under the next phase of the demonstration project, no additional chiropractic services will be provided within Medicare; the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will concentrate on collecting and evaluating claims data – a process expected to require an additional two years. CMS will furnish Congress with a formal analysis and report on the findings of the pilot project in spring 2009. “On behalf of all ACA leadership, I wish to expresses my sincerest appreciation to all who were involved in the Medicare Chiropractic Demonstration Project, especially the individual doctors of chiropractic who elected to participate over the past two years,” said ACA President Richard G. Brassard, DC. “The demonstration project was an unprecedented opportunity for the chiropractic profession to show Medicare officials that the arbitrary limits on chiropractic services are costly to taxpayers and do a great injustice to patients.” At this time, ACA is reminding all doctors of chiropractic to focus on improving the chiropractic documentation error rate within the existing Medicare program. ACA fears that continued high claims error rates will be used as an argument to thwart future efforts to allow chiropractors to provide additional services, even if results from the Medicare Chiropractic Demonstration Project are favorable. ACA offers a number of valuable Medicare resources on its Web site at In 2003, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation requiring CMS to conduct a “pilot program” allowing doctors of chiropractic to furnish additional services under Medicare. The pilot project, known as the Medicare Chiropractic Demonstration Project, was enacted into law as a direct result of an ACA lobbying campaign. The first phase of the demonstration project has been underway in select geographic areas – including Maine, New Mexico, 26 counties in Illinois, 17 counties in Virginia, and one county in Iowa – since April 2005. “Upon completion of the Medicare Chiropractic Demonstration Project, the chiropractic profession should have solid and reliable data on which to build our case for a permanent expansion within Medicare. If the data are favorable, it will be the pathway to enacting a law that will win us the Medicare coverage we have sought for years,” Dr. Brassard said. Public policy experts agree that changes to the Medicare program routinely roll over into the private sector, where health care plans often model their benefits after Medicare and adopt changes that the government makes to the program. Consequently, any positive results from the chiropractic demonstration that lead to permanent changes in the Medicare program will not only have encouraging implications for senior beneficiaries, they will also have a significant impact on the U.S. health care system for years to come. “The results of the demonstration project could finally mean the end of 30 years of discrimination against millions of patients who have been denied needed chiropractic care for far too long – not only under Medicare, but also under many private insurance plans that use Medicare as a model,” Dr. Brassard noted. For more information about chiropractic in Medicare, including the Medicare Chiropractic Demonstration Project, contact Jaime Mulligan at [email protected] or visit the ACA Web site at:


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