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Mandatory Payment Reductions in the Medicare Fee-for-Service Program – “Sequestration”

To All Health Care Professionals, Providers, and Suppliers

The Budget Control Act of 2011 requires, among other things, mandatory across-the-board reductions in Federal spending, also known as sequestration. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 postponed sequestration for two (2) months. As required by law, President Obama issued a sequestration order on March 1, 2013. The Administration continues to urge Congress to take prompt action to address the current budget uncertainty and the economic hardships imposed by sequestration.

This Listserv message is directed at the Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) program (i.e., Part A and Part B). In general, Medicare FFS claims with dates-of-service or dates-of-discharge on or after April 1, 2013, will incur a 2 percent reduction in Medicare payment. Claims for durable medical equipment (DME), prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies, including claims under the DME Competitive Bidding Program, will be reduced by two (2) percent based upon whether the date-of-service, or the start date for rental equipment or multi-day supplies, is on or after April 1, 2013.

The claims payment adjustment shall be applied to all claims after determining coinsurance, any applicable deductible, and any applicable Medicare Secondary Payment adjustments.

Though beneficiary payments for deductibles and coinsurance are not subject to the two (2) percent payment reduction, Medicare’s payment to beneficiaries for unassigned claims is subject to the two (2) percent reduction. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services encourages Medicare physicians, practitioners, and suppliers who bill claims on an unassigned basis to discuss with beneficiaries the impact of sequestration on Medicare’s reimbursement.

Questions about reimbursement should be directed to your Medicare claims administration contractor. As indicated above, we are hopeful that Congress will take action to eliminate the mandatory payment reductions.

Posted 03/08/2013.

Source: www.ngsmedicare.com

 

NGS Webinar - Medicare Documentation and Coverage

Medicare chiropractic service Documentation and Coverage
Join us for a Webinar on February 13

Space is limited.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/314303256
Medicare chiropractic service Documentation and Coverage

Title: Medicare chiropractic service Documentation and Coverage
Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Time: 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM EST

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Mac®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer
Mobile attendees
Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

 

ACA Files Class Action Lawsuit Challenging ASHN's, CIGNA's Improper Practices

Arlington, Va.--The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) has filed a class action lawsuit against American Specialty Health Inc. and American Specialty Health Networks Inc. (collectively, "ASHN"), and CIGNA Corporation and Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (collectively, "CIGNA"). The litigation alleges a litany of problems with the defendants, including arbitrary reductions of care, lack of communication to providers and patients resulting in coverage and payment errors, and interference with doctors' duty to exercise professional clinical judgment in managing patients' treatment plans.

Filed on Dec. 28, 2012, ACA's litigation--which is being handled by the law firm Pomerantz Grossman Hufford Dahlstrom & Gross LLP--represents a nationwide class of health care providers and subscribers who were subjected to ASHN and CIGNA's improper coverage and reimbursement practices.

Furthermore, CIGNA allegedly failed to comply with terms and conditions of its plan to afford its subscribers or their health care providers an opportunity to obtain a "full and fair review" of denied or reduced reimbursement, and to make appropriate and non-misleading disclosures to subscribers or their health care providers--an alleged violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the federal law governing private employee benefit plans. Additionally, the litigation outlines various allegations, including:
  • Use of false and misleading Explanations of Benefits relating to chiropractic claims (required under ERISA for informing subscribers of how their claims have been processed), which interferes with the doctor-patient relationship
  • Manipulating charge and payment data, allowing ASHN and CIGNA to pass on excessive costs to subscribers, while distorting the amounts providers actually receive in benefit payments
  • ASHN's restrictions of care via the pre-authorization process and provider contract provisions that prevent patients from having access to the full breadth of their benefits and in contradiction to their certificates of coverage--a violation of ERISA
  • ASHN and CIGNA's imposition of excessive co-pay requirements on subscribers, another ERISA violation
  • CIGNA's improper prevention of doctors of chiropractic (DCs) from providing services that fall within their scope of practice, in violation of state provider non-discrimination laws
  • ASHN and CIGNA's violation of various state prompt payment laws
ACA's suit requests the court to award injunctive, declaratory and other equitable relief to ensure ASHN and CIGNA's compliance with ERISA as well as other state and federal laws and regulations.

"ACA was compelled to take this action against ASHN and CIGNA because their egregious practices are undermining patient care and doctor-patient relationships. DCs feel they have to choose between acting in the best interest of the patient, and adhering to the requirements imposed by ASHN and payers they work with," said ACA President Keith Overland, DC. "Since 2002 we have worked to try and improve these issues. It is now time for action and we will not rest until patients across the nation receive all the care they need and have paid for through their insurance premiums."

Providers who believe they and/or their patients have been affected by ASHN and/or CIGNA's improper practices can visit the Chiropractic Networks Action Center where they will find instructions and forms that can be used to submit a complaint to ACA.

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), based in Arlington, Va., is the largest professional association in the United States representing doctors of chiropractic. ACA promotes the highest standards of patient care and ethics, and supports research that contributes to the health and well-being of millions of chiropractic patients. Visit www.acatoday.org.

 

NGS Medicare Announces Important Updates Effective January 1, 2013

NGS Medicare has released several updates regarding changes that took effect on January 1, 2013. The principle highlights include the following:
  • The new fee schedule will be effective as of January 1, 2013, but is not published on the NGS web site at this time. For bookkeeping purposes, you may want to consider holding 2013 Medicare billings until later in the month. Check the website for updates.
  • Participation in PQRS is no longer optional as of January 1, 2013. Providers who do not report quality measures beginning January 1, 2013 will see a 1.5% fee reduction penalty starting in 2015.
  • EHR incentives are also still in effect with financial incentives available to those who qualify.
For more details on this release, please see the article below. Additionally, the New York Chiropractic College will be offering a NY Medicare educational program on January 10, 2013 at all locations. Among the topics to be covered are the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), along with other Medicare procedures.

As always, the NYSCA will continue to send updates as we receive them.

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President Obama Signs the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
--New Law Includes Physician Update Fix through December 2013--

On Wednesday, January 2, 2013, President Obama signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. This new law prevents a scheduled payment cut for physicians and other practitioners who treat Medicare patients from taking effect on January 1, 2013. The new law provides for a zero percent update for such services through December 31, 2013. This provision guarantees seniors have continued access to their doctors by fixing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) through the end of 2013...

Section 601 – Medicare Physician Payment Update – As indicated above, the new law provides for a zero percent update for claims with dates of service on or after January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is currently revising the 2013 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) to reflect the new law’s requirements as well as technical corrections identified since publication of the final rule in November. For your information, the 2013 conversion factor is $34.0230.

In order to allow sufficient time to develop, test, and implement the revised MPFS, Medicare claims administration contractors may hold MPFS claims with January 2013 dates of service for up to 10 business days (i.e., through January 15, 2013). We expect these claims to be released into processing no later than January 16, 2013. The claim hold should have minimal impact on physician/practitioner cash flow because, under current law, clean electronic claims are not paid sooner than 14 calendar days (29 for paper claims) after the date of receipt. Claims with dates of service prior to January 1, 2013, are unaffected. Medicare claims administration contractors will be posting the MPFS payment rates on their websites no later than January 23, 2013.

The 2013 Annual Participation Enrollment Program allowed eligible physicians, practitioners, and suppliers an opportunity to change their participation status by December 31, 2012. Given the new legislation, CMS is extending the 2013 annual participation enrollment period through February 15, 2013. Therefore, participation elections and withdrawals must be post-marked on and before February 15, 2013. The effective date for any participation status changes elected by providers during the extension remains January 1, 2013. (continued at http://bit.ly/2013MedicareUpdates)

 

One-Year Postponement in Medicare Reimbursement Cuts Included in Fiscal Cliff Package

The fiscal cliff legislation expected to be signed by the president today, contains a one-year delay in a scheduled cut in reimbursement for Medicare providers, including doctors of chiropractic.

The legislation will block a 27 percent payment cut to Medicare physicians that was due to start January 1st and keep rates frozen at current levels for the rest of this calendar year. Medicare providers were also set to face an additional two percent cut due to further budget tightening provisions, known as "sequestration," but that cut has also been suspended to give Congress time to find alternatives to this across-the-board cut in federal programs.

Once the fiscal cliff legislation has been signed, Medicare claims contractors will adjust their 2013 fee schedules accordingly; many have already removed the reduced 2013 fees from their web site so this adjustment can be made.  Please check your contractor's web site periodically for these new fees. Until the new fees are posted, the ACA recommends using the 2012 fee schedule.

 

Several Long Awaited Proposed Health Reform Regulations Released

Several long awaited proposed regulations that govern implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) provisions were released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday. These regulations are intended to provide detailed guidance regarding implementation of the 2010 law. Of special note--starting in Jan. 2014--it will be illegal for an insurer to discriminate due to pre-existing conditions in denying coverage. It is estimated that this one provision will provide insurance options for some 129 million Americans. In addition to the pre-existing conditions exclusion, insurers will not be able to discriminate based upon gender, occupation, claims history or health status for the purpose of raising premiums.

Additional Standards were also laid out in this week's proposed rule that relate to issuers' determinations of essential health benefits and their value. PPACA requires payers in the individual/small group markets to include within their plans core essential benefits. ACA is following this development closely and is active nationally on behalf of the profession. Be sure to look for ACA comments on these proposed rules in future editions of Week in Review. If you haven't yet decided to contribute to CHAMP, consider these national proposals and how they will affect you. Follow health care reform here.

 

Chairman Beloten Announces New Medical Treatment Guidelines for Workers’ Compensation

After continued conversations and meetings with the New York State Workers' Compensation Board, we are now able to confirm updates to the Medical Treatment Guidelines.

Effective February 1, 2013, regulatory changes will be made to the Medical Treatment Guidelines [MTGs] allowing for, among other things, maintenance care for chronic back and neck pain.  This is exciting news indeed!

Regulatory modifications to the MTGs include the following:
  • The new Carpal Tunnel Syndrome MTGs have formally been adopted. 
  • A new maintenance care program has also been adopted, allowing up to 10 visits per year for chronic pain for patients who have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and have a permanent disability. 
  • Variance Request transmission requirements are being clarified and simplified in order to reduce the number of technical violation rejections. Details regarding these changes will be released as they become available. 
  • Carriers are now permitted to grant a portion of a variance request. Providers and patients will have the right to request a review of any denied portion of the request. This new allowance provides an opportunity for providers and carriers to reach a compromise, resulting in a reduction in unnecessary litigation due to complete denials. 
It has been noted that, by far, the majority of variance requests (nearly 80%) submitted by providers have been for maintenance care for patients with chronic pain. The Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) continues to develop a chronic pain MTG. In the meantime, the MAC has agreed that some maintenance care (including chiropractic, physical therapy, and occupational therapy) should be available to patients with chronic pain who have received benefit from such treatment in the past. 

Accordingly, the revised MTGs will allow for up to 10 visits for maintenance care per year for patients who have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and have a permanent disability. These guidelines will apply to all claims effective February 1, 2013, regardless of the date of accident or the date of disablement.

Additional clarification is expected regarding the definition of “10 visits” (i.e. multiple body sites, CPT codes, and multiple provider types).  However, this is a move in the right direction and is a welcome change to the way workers’ compensation claims are currently administrated.

It is clear how beneficial these changes will be for injured workers and their providers:  The need for variance requests will be minimized or even eliminated for many patients; Employed patients will not have to lose time from work to attend hearings on denied requests; Recurrences of symptoms and exacerbations will be minimized, resulting in a better quality of life for our patients.

We anticipate that the Workers’ Compensation Board will continue to have open dialogue with the NYSCA and other vested organizations as we work together to serve the best interests of our patients and providers.

For more information, please see the official website of the New York State Workers Compensation Board:  http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/SubjectNos/sn046_497.jsp

 

Combating Fraud and Abuse in Medicare & Medicaid

As Medicare Contracted Advisory Committee Representative for NY, Dr. Lupinacci and I have been receiving many complaints regarding Medicare. As CAC reps, we work closely on these issues with the ACA. We also get many questions as to what we are doing to stop some of the unfair treatment we receive in Medicare. Dealing with CMS and the rules and regulations governing Medicare is a national issue, we wanted to share a communication from ACA with you:

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Supreme Court Upholds Health Reform Law

ACA Will Continue to Fight for Patient Access to Chiropractic as Law is Fully Implemented 

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ACA's Investigation of ASHN Reveals Scope of Problems

 

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ACA, COCSA, OtherPlaintiffs Defeat UnitedHealthcare's Motion to Dismiss Class Action Lawsuit

Profession Can Now Pursue Alleged ERISA Violations   

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HHS Bulletin Outlines Plan for Implementing Essential Health Benefits in Health Law

Opportunities Look Bright for the Chiropractic Profession
 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today released a bulletin outlining proposed policies that will give states more flexibility and freedom to implement certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). 
 
The HHS proposal describes "an inclusive, affordable and flexible proposal and informs stakeholders about the approach that HHS intends to pursue in rulemaking to define essential health benefits. HHS is releasing this intended approach to give consumers, states, employers and issuers timely information as they work toward establishing Exchanges and making decisions for 2014." This approach was developed with significant input from the public, including ACA's comments provided during the Institute of Medicine hearings, as well as reports from the Department of Labor, and research conducted by HHS. Today's HHS proposal offers for public comment four alternative "benchmark plans" for flexible choice by the states in designing how to meet the new health care reform essential health benefit (EHB) requirements.
 
Although the American Chiropractic Association's (ACA) leadership has just begun to analyze the HHS proposal, its first impression is positive for the chiropractic profession. "Overall, this is one of the best outcomes we could achieve," said Keith Overland, DC, president of ACA. "Given that virtually every state has chiropractic services or some sort of insurance equality included among their existing insurance plans; this HHS proposal released today appears to be very good news."
 
ACA understood in 2010 that the health care reform legislation was not likely to include chiropractic services as a named essential benefit. Therefore, its strategy has been to ensure that DCs are able to provide their services under the categories of EHBs included in plans offered through the health exchanges. "We will continue to make our position crystal clear at the highest levels of HHS-that language considered at the federal and state level relative to essential benefits must include the services provided by doctors of chiropractic. Anything less would be a disservice to the millions of Americans that benefit from chiropractic care on a daily basis," said Dr. Overland.
 
ACA and its Chiropractic Summit partners will examine the HHS proposal and, in partnership with the state associations, work to advocate that state governments  choose benchmark plans that include chiropractic services among the EHBs.
 
As projected by ACA, the HHS bulletin allows for public comment before Jan. 31, 2012. It is also expected that HHS will revert to the standard regulatory process on this issue next year, where further opportunity to comment will be available before a final rule is issued.

 
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), based in Arlington, Va., is the largest professional association in the United States representing doctors of chiropractic. ACA promotes the highest standards of patient care and ethics, and supports research that contributes to the health and well-being of millions of chiropractic patients. Visit
www.acatoday.org.
















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Congress Passes Bill Delaying Medicare Cut

 

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New ABN form required as of Jan'12

Medicare has released a revised version of the ABN. They previously indicated that mandatory use of this version would begin on Nov. 1, 2011. Medicare has now delayed the implementation date to Jan. 1, 2012. All ABNs with the release date of March, 2008, that are issued on or after January 1, 2012 will be considered invalid.

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Daily News - New workers' compensation rules jeopardizing insurance for thousands of workers and retirees

 

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CBO: 30% Medicare Physician Pay Cut in 2012

According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released this week, Medicare payments to physicians will be reduced by 29.4% on Jan. 1. 2012, unless Congress takes action. 

The reduction is the result of several years of legislative action intended to either maintain or increase Medicare physician payments as those rates were scheduled to decrease according to Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), a mechanism used to determine reimbursement rates.

There is general consensus that the SGR needs to be amended. Determining how best to change the formula has been the topic of numerous congressional hearings this year.  CBO's new report provides input into the costs of proposals to replace or amend the Medicare fee schedule formula. CBO reports that if Congress were to eliminate the SGR and freeze Medicare payments to physicians at current rates, the cost to the federal government would be almost $298 billion over 10 years. By contrast, providing a 2% pay increase each year until 2021 would cost $389 billion over 10 years. One of the less expensive options would be to reset the SGR by having Congress forgive all previous spending above the cumulative targets as of the end of 2010.  That solution would cost $195 billion over 10 years.



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House Votes to Rescind 1099 Provision

The Senate and now the House of Representatives has voted 314-112 to repeal a provision in the healthcare reform law that requires all businesses, including chiropractic practices to submit a 1099 form each time they spend $600 or more. The measure now goes to President Obama for his signature.

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Legislation to Expand Patient Access to Chiropractic Care Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC) today announced that their work with key congressional supporters has resulted in two important pieces of pro-chiropractic legislation being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. These bills, if enacted into law, would increase patient access to vital health care—which includes chiropractic care—and benefit chiropractic physicians and students. 

One of the legislative initiatives, the Access to Frontline Health Care Act (H.R. 531), would establish a new program that would help chiropractic physicians and other select health care providers repay their student loans if, in exchange, the providers establish and maintain practices in medically underserved areas. The legislation, introduced Feb. 8 in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) would designate certain types of health care providers as “frontline” providers. ACA and ACC worked closely with the sponsor of the bill to ensure that chiropractic physicians are specified in the bill as qualifying for this status.

“Many regions of our nation, particularly the rural parts of America, simply do not have sufficient numbers of qualified health care professionals to meet the needs of the local population,” said ACA President Rick McMichael, DC. “This legislation would provide vital health care to underserved patients across the country, and it would also help newly graduated chiropractic physicians establish practices and repay their student loans.”

The second piece of legislation, the Chiropractic Membership in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Act of 2011 (H.R. 664), introduced by Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) on Feb. 11, would also benefit the public and the profession by requiring the inclusion of chiropractic physicians in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps.

The Commissioned Corps is an elite team of more than 6,000 well-trained, highly qualified public health professionals dedicated to delivering the nation’s public health promotion and disease prevention programs and advancing public health science. Officers in the Corps provide health care services in a variety of locations and venues, including care to members of the U.S. Coast Guard and at community health centers. 

"Both of these pieces of legislation are critical to the integration of chiropractic care in every federal health care program,” said Frank J. Nicchi, DC, president of the Association of Chiropractic Colleges. "Chiropractic students and alumni will benefit immensely from the opportunity to provide care to citizens in medically underserved areas and to participate in the Commissioned Corps. We applaud Reps. Braley and Green for their leadership and support for the inclusion of chiropractic care in these important national health care initiatives.” 

The introduction of both pieces of legislation fairly early in the First Session of the current 112th Congress was intentional by ACA, ACC and the bill’s supporters. “Early introduction allows for the time necessary to build critical momentum for these pro-chiropractic initiatives,” said John Falardeau, ACA’s vice president of government relations. “Having that momentum increases the likelihood of these bills successfully advancing through the legislative process.”

To view the full text of HR 531, click
here.

To see the full text of HR 664, click
here.

ACA and ACC request that chiropractic physicians
contact their congressional representatives and urge them to cosponsor both of these bills.

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), based in Arlington, Va., is the largest professional association in the United States representing doctors of chiropractic. ACA promotes the highest standards of patient care and ethics, and supports research that contributes to the health and well-being of millions of chiropractic patients. Visit
www.acatoday.org.

The Association of Chiropractic Colleges represents accredited chiropractic colleges in North America and seeks to advance chiropractic education, research and service.






















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Congress Moves to Expand Chiropractic Services to Veterans and Military Beneficiaries

(Arlington, Va.) -- The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC) today expressed support for newly introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives designed to expand the availability of the services delivered by chiropractic physicians in the federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and to those who utilize the military’s health care delivery system, TRICARE, run by the Department of Defense (DoD).

Ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), has again introduced the Chiropractic Care to All Veterans Act (H.R. 329), a bill similar to legislation that was overwhelmingly passed by the entire House in 2010 but was not considered in the Senate. H.R. 329 would require the VA to have a chiropractic physician on staff at all major VA medical facilities by 2014. It would also amend the current statute, the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001, ensuring that chiropractic benefits are included in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations and therefore, cannot be denied.

“Our nation’s veterans and active-duty military, along with their family members, have sacrificed so much for our country. They deserve the best health care available, and that includes chiropractic care,” said ACA President Rick McMichael, DC. “It makes me proud to see the chiropractic profession working with our congressional allies in support of this important legislation.”

Through previous congressional action, chiropractic care is now available at 36 VA facilities across the country; however, in the more than 100 major VA medical facilities without a chiropractic physician on staff, the chiropractic care benefit Congress authorized for America’s veterans remains virtually nonexistent. Detroit, Denver, and Chicago are a few of the major metropolitan areas still without a chiropractic physician at the local VA medical facility.

The ACA and ACC believe that integrating chiropractic care into the VA health care system would not only be cost-effective, it would also speed the recovery of many of the veterans returning from current operations overseas.  A 2010 report from the Veterans Health Administration indicates that over half of all veterans returning from the Middle East and Southwest Asia who have sought VA health care were treated for symptoms associated with musculoskeletal ailments – the top complaint of those tracked for the report.

In addition, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) has re-introduced another piece of legislation in the House that would extend chiropractic care to U.S. military retirees, dependents and survivors as part of the TRICARE program. H.R. 409, the Chiropractic Health Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act, would require the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to allow any beneficiary covered under TRICARE to select and have direct access to a chiropractic physician. The plan deadline is Aug. 31, 2011. Currently, only active duty members are afforded the chiropractic benefit.
 
“I am pleased that Congress has taken these two important steps that, when taken together, facilitate access by our veterans, active military and their families to fundamental health care benefits such as chiropractic care,” said ACC President Dr. Frank Nicchi, “Chiropractic continues to enjoy high levels of satisfaction among our servicemen and women.”

H.R. 409 defines “chiropractic services” as diagnosis (including X-ray and tests), evaluation and management, and therapeutic services for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal health conditions. The legislation specifically notes that chiropractic services may only be provided by a chiropractic physician. Rep. Rogers introduced nearly identical legislation in the past two sessions of Congress.
 
To view the full text of H.R. 329, click
here.

To see the full text of H.R. 409, click
here.

ACA and ACC request that chiropractic physicians
contacttheir congressional representatives and urge them to cosponsor both of these bills.

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), based in Arlington, Va., is the largest professional association in the United States representing doctors of chiropractic. ACA promotes the highest standards of patient care and ethics, and supports research that contributes to the health and well-being of millions of chiropractic patients. Visit
www.acatoday.org.






















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Palladian Audit Extension

 

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