Veterans and Chiropractic

CHIROPRACTIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETS MARCH 25-26th IN WASHINGTON, DC: ICA representatives were present for the entire proceedings of the third meeting of the Chiropractic Veterans Advisory Committee held over a two-day period in Washington, D.C. on March 25-26, 2003. The Committee continued its congressionally mandated mission of developing recommendations for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on the implementation of a permanent chiropractic benefit for veterans. This session addressed a number of key issues such as scope of practice, core chiropractic privileges in VA facilities and the vitally important matter of direct access to chiropractic care. ICA Board Member Dr. Michael S. McLean who serves on the Committee, reported that he felt that the direction of Committee deliberations was quite positive and despite the need to continuously work to establish a better understanding of the potential role of chiropractic in the DVA system on the part of the non-chiropractic members, there is every reason for optimism on the eventual Committee recommendations.

ICA offered comment at the March 25th session, focusing on the vital issue of direct access by veteran beneficiaries to chiropractic care. ICA Executive Director Ronald M. Hendrickson told the Committee, in part:
At the top of ICA's list of concerns is the need for unhindered, timely, direct access to chiropractic care for the veteran patient. ICA emphatically holds that in accessing chiropractic care, no mandatory referral requirement should be a part of the chiropractic program. The availability of chiropractic care should be at the request of the patient. Other key federal programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, federal worker's compensation and FEHBP programs provide for direct access. Indeed, direct access is the norm in the health care system for the chiropractic patient. All laws and regulations in the United States allow any citizen to seek the services of the doctor of chiropractic without referral from any other provider. Individuals are free to seek chiropractic care on the same individual initiative basis that applies to other direct access providers.

The matter of direct access should be seen for what it is, a responsible, viable and practical administrative method to provide timely care. This discussion should not be confused or obstructed by a debate about the role of the doctor of chiropractic in "primary care". The doctor of chiropractic is, under the laws of all fifty states, a direct access, first professional degree level provider who serves as a portal-of-entry into the health care system...What is essential to guarantee unfettered and timely access to chiropractic services is the establishment of a clearly identified care option open to qualified beneficiaries which they would be free to seek, without the requirement of a referral from another health care professional...Direct access provides for clarity in decision making, empowers the patient and establishes an effective means of access that will not delay, confuse or otherwise prevent a beneficiary's access to the care of first choice, while waiting for a referral that may be slow in being provided or, never come at all.

The full text of ICA's comments is available by clicking here or by calling ICA at 1-800-423-4690. The Advisory Committee will continue to meet in the coming months until its mission ends, as provided in the statute that created it in December 2004.

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