We need your help to address unfair pay issue

Dr. Dave Butters

As many of you know, we were not successful this legislative session on our first attempt to pass our Fair Pay Bill. It’s important to remember that the legislative process is a marathon, not a sprint. We currently continue to work with key legislators and the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) to address the unfair pay issues. We are collecting EOBs for all insurance companies for spinal manipulation services provided by DOs and NDs, along with corresponding DC EOBs for the same geography and approximate time (within the same month).

Washington State Chiropractic Association (WSCA) lobbyist Lori Grassi and WSCA member Dr. Gina Wolf from Spokane participated in a prior-authorization hearing on March 29 with the House of Representatives Health Care Committee testifying to the concerns with the behaviors of eviCore. We exposed the practices of eviCore and their irrational, baseless and unfair allocation of visits to providers. (Watch the TVW video here.)

Let’s talk about why our bill, SB 5518, didn’t pass. We had a lot of legislative support but the (relatively) few people attending our legislative day questions our resolve and lets legislators on the fence off the hook. We have 2,400 chiropractors in our state and yet fewer than 50 attended). The chiropractors who participated did a good job delivering our message to lawmakers, but lobbying is one of those rare things where sometimes quantity can make the difference. We need a larger presence at our Legislative Day (300-plus DCs). By contrast, our medical and osteopathic counterparts (and the PTs) turn out in the hundreds on their legislative days. When Washington State Chiropractors are ready to compete at that level, we’ll move mountains.

The legislation that we introduced exposed a very technical issue with formulas that the DCs at Legislative Day needed to understand in order to explain to legislators.

Explaining those issues to legislators in 15-minute appointments proved very challenging; especially when they were meeting with lobbyists and constituents in back-to-back meetings. In order to pass this kind of legislation we have to have a repeated, consistent message relayed by many DCs. The call volume by DCs to their legislators on this issue, while strong and impressive, didn’t meet the challenge of such a piece of policy. We have called out disparate pay to other professions who stand to lose income, who don’t want our bill to pass. We have challenged the inappropriate payment practices by influential insurers in Washington State; however, to succeed with this kind of a challenge with opposition from Premera, Regence and Aetna it takes time and large numbers of chiropractors engaging their legislators throughout the session.

Remember that Regence, Premera and Aetna all contribute large amounts of money (part of this equation) to the House and Senate. It’s critical we continue to raise and strategically contribute funds to political campaigns. Less than 15 percent of Washington state chiropractors contribute financially to the political activities that protect and enhance your profession and your patients’ access to your services.

So what happens next? Be assured that we will continue to fight for fair pay and against intrusive, disruptive and costly prior authorization practices and any other actions that interfere with our patients’ access to our services and our ability to compete fairly in the market place.

I am calling on you again to donate to the Trust, to help elect those who support chiropractic. And next year, I will ask you again to come to Olympia, and again to meet with your legislators between sessions back in your home districts. The legislative process is a long one, and at times discouraging. Our lobbyist Lori Grassi is always available to help you facilitate YOUR message with your legislators, both during and between sessions, but it has to be initiated by you. Will YOU? Contact Lori Grassi at 206-878-6055 or by email lgrassi@chirohealth.org.

If you have contributed recently and/or are a regular contributor to the WSCT, it is appreciated and makes a difference. If you haven’t contributed, I urge you to do so today. You will find on our website www.washingtonchirotrust.org an online donation option. Just click on the DONATE button to make either a one-time or recurring donation. Or, if you prefer, fill out and return the enclosed contribution envelope.

Make a one-time contribution: $1000, $500, $250, $100 or sign up for monthly credit card withdrawals: $100, $50, $25 monthly.

— Dr. Dave Butters, DC

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