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Dr. Martin reports from Chiropractic Summit 19

(From left) Board of Trustees member Dr. Michael Chance, Trustee Dr. Bill Morgan of Walter Reed Medical Center, Sen. Bill Nelson and Dr. Martin.
Drs. Chance, Morgan, Senator Nelson, and Dr. Martin standing together

The Chiropractic Summit 19 was held on March 6 in conjunction with the NCLC conference in Washington, D.C. Florida Campus President Peter Martin, D.C. (Davenport '68), is a member of the Chiropractic Summit and provided the following recap of the proceedings.

As always, the highlight of the Summit is the Government Relations Report presented by John Falardeau, ACA lobbyist. Mr. Falardeau mentioned that since the prior Summit, statements have been presented to HHS regarding chiropractic inclusion in multi-state plans and essential health benefits proposed rules. Mr. Falardeau stated that implementation of the Affordable Care Act will largely be at the state level and that lobbying by individual state associations will be essential for good chiropractic inclusion.

As in prior Summits, Mr. Falardeau emphasized the three big issues for chiropractic are state insurance exchanges, essential benefits and Section #2706, the non-discrimination provision in the Affordable Care Act. State exchanges will serve largely to provide insurance at a price to the estimated 40 to 60 million people who are currently uninsured. Plans offered by the exchanges must include, at a minimum, essential benefits as defined by the individual states utilizing federal guidelines. Mr. Falardeau added that most employer-based plans and ERISA plans will remain in place and unchanged.

It was anticipated that most states would set up their own insurance exchanges rather than defer to the federal government. This is not proving to be the case. Seventeen states have established or will establish their own exchanges, including California. Seven states, including Iowa and Illinois, will partner with the federal government to establish an exchange. Twenty-six states, including Florida, have stated they will not establish exchanges and will defer to the federal government to do so. It does not appear that the federal government will be able to meet the October 2013 deadline to establish exchanges. Indeed, HHS has no funding to set up insurance exchanges in those 26 states.

States establishing their own exchanges are utilizing, as bench marks, major plans currently used by small businesses within that state. California elected to emulate the low-cost Kaiser Plan, which does not offer chiropractic services. Oregon's plan includes chiropractic as a profession rather than as a service; this would appear to be an ideal situation. California, according to Mr. Falardeau, should work to get around the limitations of the Kaiser Plan by having chiropractic included as a profession providing essential benefits rather than as a specific service.

As a side note, the AMA has determined the repeal of Section #2706 to be a major priority. Certain states, such as Connecticut, have stated their intent to strongly insure patient protection provisions, including the non-discrimination provisions of Section #2706.

On March 7, Dr. Martin attended the NCLC general session, where the keynote speaker was United States Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. Sen. Nelson spoke of his personal experience with chiropractic, cited the good care and personal friendship with Dr. Bill Morgan and even mentioned Palmer's Florida Campus. He added that he believed chiropractic was well positioned to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act.

Later that day, Dr. Martin joined the Florida contingent and visited the Florida members of congress. Congressional visits were focused on passage of HR 741 to provide to military retirees, dependents and survivor beneficiaries through TRICARE the same chiropractic services provided to active duty military. HR 741 is authored by Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA).

Also promoted during the visits was HR 171, authored by Gene Green (D-Texas), which would extend commissioning in the USPHS to doctors of chiropractic, and HR 702, the "Access To Frontline Health Care Act," which would establish a student loan repayment program to health care providers, including chiropractors, who have committed to practice in a medically under-served community for at least two years.

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