Our chiropractic priorities during 2022 session of Washington State Legislature

Dr. Dave Butters

The 2022 session of the Washington State Legislature is right around the corner. The Washington State Chiropractic Trust is committed to educating legislators about our priority issues and due to the limitations with the 2022 legislative session we will target our participation directly to specific legislators.

You can find your state legislator at this link: http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder.  

Here are the priorities that we have identified for our 2022 legislative agenda:

  1. Adding chiropractors to the list of providers eligible to deliver spinal manipulation to adult Medicaid recipients within the existing benefit
  2. Requesting insurers share with providers the “red lined,” or “track-changed” provider agreements along with a clean agreement when changes are made
  3. Working to protect laws we currently enjoy

Regarding the Medicaid issue, decades ago, chiropractors were part of the list of providers eligible to treat adult Medicaid recipients in Washington state. In the 1990s, chiropractors were removed from the list of providers, yet the spinal manipulation benefit remained intact (10 visits of spinal manipulation) — but only if the adult Medicaid patient received the care from an osteopath or a naturopath. For more than 10 years, we have been working with policy makers and legislators to reinstate chiropractors into the list of eligible providers for several reasons:

  1. Chiropractic care can positively impact many components of the opioid crisis. Reducing pain can keep people who struggle with addiction in a more stable position in their life.
  2. Low-income people deserve the same access to drugless options as everyone else. Pain is the same regardless of economic status, but not everyone has the same access to services for managing that pain.  Having a job, insurance and a vehicle to get to appointments — and being able to pay your share of the cost — can be the pivotal point of which path a person takes when they are in pain.
  3. Chiropractic care for adult Medicaid recipients can change the fiscal impact on a local or state government when it is available to all citizens in a community, especially those that are more impoverished and have less access to choices of care.
  4. Chiropractic care can keep people alive. Opioids are estimated to account for 70% of drug-related mortality in recent years and is the primary driver of variation in drug-related deaths. The increased rate of drug-related mortality grew 225% in the US from 2000 to 2016.

Over the past two years, our lobbyist Lori Grassi has been working with state legislators, the State Health Care Authority, and committee staff in an extremely detailed process to determine the appropriate funding requirements for adding chiropractors, and a new acupuncture benefit, to the adult Medicaid benefit. This year, the fiscal modeling by state agencies is the lowest it has ever been, at approximately $8 million for the combined benefit, putting us in a strong position for inclusion in the 2022 supplemental budget. When opioids are frequently the alternative to pain management, it is a perfect opportunity for chiropractic care to shine bright and show better fiscal outcomes for covering the cost of pain management, but also for a more positive impact on low-income communities and their futures.

Many chiropractors have asked why the WSCA is working so hard to include chiropractors into the list of providers eligible to deliver care to adult Medicaid recipients, especially when reimbursement is so low. Here are two good reasons:

First, it paves the way for chiropractors to participate in the state’s student loan repayment program. As part of the qualifications for the student loan repayment recovery eligibility, an applying health care provider must be able to serve a greater population of low-income persons with their health care covered by Medicaid.

Second, chiropractic participation in federal (Medicare) and state (Labor and Industries) programs creates credibility, expands and opens opportunities to further demonstrate the fiscal/health value proposition of chiropractic — ultimately leading to greater and easier access to chiropractic services.

2022 Legislative Day canceled

During a normal year, in January we would be hosting our in-person Chiropractic Legislative Day at the state capitol – our annual opportunity to make our presence known to lawmakers in Olympia. Due to uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the limitations on access to the state capitol buildings, we will not be hosting an in-person event. We will reach out to key members in targeted districts to ask that you contact your legislators through email, or phone call. If you have a strong connection to your legislators where you have their cell phone, please email WSCA@chirohealth.org and use “legislator” in the subject line so that Lori can contact you when your legislative contact needs to be reached.

Your financial support of the WSCT and membership in the WSCA is everything! You have, and will continue, to benefit from everything that we do. If you have donated recently and/or are a regular contributor to the WSCT, it is appreciated, and it makes a difference.  Please click here to make either a one-time or recurring donation.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season.

— Dr. Dave Butters, President
Washington State Chiropractic Trust