Legislation could help defeat opioid crisis
The opioid epidemic is the largest public health crisis America ever has faced, and it’s far from over. Let’s not forget this crisis had origins with prescription medications most commonly written for musculoskeletal conditions like back pain. Sadly, this might have been avoided if Americans made use of the safe, effective, drug-free methods of pain care available resulting in less reliance on prescription medications for pain.
Our aging population contends with pain on a daily basis. Wear and tear results in painful arthritic conditions necessitating doctor visits where the usual recommendations are expensive imaging such as MRIs along with pain medications, many of which are potentially addictive. The end result can be expensive back, hip and knee injections or surgeries with even more medications in recovery. Medications, especially opioids, disturb balance and can contribute to the risk of falling. Falls and their complications are the third-leading cause of death in seniors behind heart disease and cancer, which currently results in an annual cost to Medicare of over $30 billion.
Chiropractic care focuses on reducing pain by increasing function rather than relying on medications to mask the pain. Improved joint function can increase balance and stability resulting in reduced risk of falls, as well as effective drug-free pain relief.
Our Medicare population deserves the best possible access and coverage for this type of care. Medicare has, for 50 years, severely limited services chiropractic physicians can order and provide for their senior patients.
A new bipartisan bill introduced to Congress will give the 55 million Americans covered by Medicare full access to all services provided by a doctor of chiropractic. It is called The Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act, H.R. 3654.
America’s seniors need and deserve access to chiropractic’s broad-based services for common conditions that cause acute and chronic back and neck pain. However, Medicare currently does not pay for a chiropractor’s consultation, physical examination, necessary X-rays, physiotherapies, exercises or balance therapies. This bill provides Medicare patients the freedom to access chiropractic care directly and by so doing will save the Medicare program money. Research shows annual charges for opioid prescriptions were 78 percent lower for patients who received chiropractic care.
Members of Congress want to hear from you, the voter, more than anyone else. Seniors can contact U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan’s Washington office at 202-225-5261. Call and ask Congressman Ryan to support H.R. 3654, The Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act.
DR. PAT ENSMINGER
Co-chair, Ohio Chiropractic Association Opioid Task Force