We are almost at Thanksgiving, and I want to express my gratitude to those of you who have given so much to our profession. You volunteer for committees. You donate time and money. You engage in our mission of protecting and promoting patient access to chiropractic care.
The holiday season also means that we are getting closer to the start of yet another session of the Washington State Legislature, and our Legislative Day, set this year for Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 in Olympia. It’s your opportunity to meet legislators who represent you, and to advocate for your profession and your patients. We are counting on a large chiropractic turn out for our Legislative Day to ensure that legislators are focused on our issues.
Your participation in the legislative process is critical to our outcomes and truly makes a difference. If you cannot attend the legislative day, you can still come any day during the session. Just schedule your time in advance with our lobbyist Lori Grassi, and she will make sure that you get a chance to share your issues.
Here is the 2018 Legislative Agenda as approved by the Washington State Chiropractic Association Board:
1) Reinforce the importance of chiropractic’s drugless approach to address the opioid crisis
The WSCT, in partnership with the Washington State Chiropractic Association’s Insurance Committee, has been working with legislators and insurers to educate them on how chiropractic can save money assisting in the decrease of opioids for pain management. Patients can see their MD as many times as they want in any health plan and their first plan of attack on pain is an opioid. We want insurers and legislators to encourage patients to engage in a drugless option first, by reconsidering their approach and removing the barriers to access, which include high copays and visit limits. Another concept we’re pursuing is no prior authorization for the initial 12 visits.
2) Identify chiropractors as primary care providers within their scope of practice.
Our message to legislators: Primary care providers aren’t expected to manage and treat every condition that enters their office, but they are expected to triage and work within their scope of practice and refer when appropriate. We are citing results of the Optum study, which demonstrated that the most common health conditions presenting in a PCP’s office are musculoskeletal. If chiropractors were included by definition as PCPs the insurance specialist classification would go away, copays would drop and the patient would have a greater incentive to seek their chiropractor first – thus reducing exposure to an opioid.
3) Ensure that chiropractors are paid fairly for CMT services
We are again submitting a bill that would require insurers to pay chiropractors fairly for CMT services. The bill also encourages carriers to use the nationally established Relative Value Unite (RVU) system and its conversion factors in paying all providers. Currently, most insurers overpay some provider types and underpay chiropractors for CMT. They should be following the national standards instead of paying others more than the formula and chiropractors less.
4) Secure a manipulation benefit for adult Medicaid recipients-who can only see an osteopath or naturopath for manipulative services.
For the fifth year, we are working to include chiropractors in the list of providers who can deliver manipulation benefits. While we recognize this benefit doesn’t pay well, we believe that under-served communities deserve to have access to drugless services too, and it will save the entire Medicaid system money if they see a chiropractor first. We are also working with the Governor and the State Health Care Authority on a pilot project that would direct Medicaid patients to drugless options for pain management.
5) Remove the sunset provision on the independent pilot for the Chiropractic Quality Assurance Commission.
The Chiropractic Quality Assurance Commission regulates the competency and quality of chiropractors to ensure they are delivering high quality services to state residents. For the past four years, the commission has participated in a pilot project under which it has assumed responsibility for several functions that were previously provided by the Department of Health – including budget, licensing and disciplinary compliance. The pilot is set to expire in mid-2018, and we are advocating that the 2018 legislature grant the commission permanent status as an independent body.
As we prepare for the 2018 legislative session, and for our Jan. 25, 2018 Chiropractic Legislative Day, it is critical that each of you get to know your local legislators. Invite them for coffee or a lunch at your clinic and get 4 or 5 of your colleagues to come as well. You can find your state legislator at this link: http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder. If you would like help setting up meetings with your legislators, contact Lori Grassi, Lobbyist and Executive Director for the WSCA, at LGrassi@chirohealth.org or 206-878-6055.
Finally, I began this letter by expressing my gratitude for those chiropractors who give back to our profession. If you are a regular WSCT contributor, it is appreciated. If you haven’t donated, please do so today. Visit www.washingtonchirotrust.org and 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.
You can make a one-time contribution of $1,000, $500, $250, $100 or you can sign up for monthly credit card withdrawals.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
— Dr. Dave Butters, President
Washington State Chiropractic Trust