US Medicare System Expands Chiropractic Coverage

News of a pilot program to expand chiropractic coverage in Medicare was reported in the April 7, 2005 issue of the Senior Journal. According to the report the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have announced the start of a two-year demonstration to expand Medicare coverage of chiropractic services in five states. The purpose of this pilot program is to determine the impact on satisfaction, use of services, and costs for Medicare beneficiaries.

The states involved in the pilot program involve areas in Maine, New Mexico, Illinois, Iowa, and Virginia. In the areas of this pilot program, chiropractors are able to offer Medicare Part B patients an expanded array of services that they are allowed to provide by state law to their entire list of patients, but that were not previously paid for by Medicare.

Normally, only chiropractic adjustments are a covered service under Medicare. In the pilot program the services that will also be covered will include diagnostic and therapy services, including extraspinal manipulation or adjustment of a body part other than the spine, x-rays, EMG and nerve conduction studies, clinical lab tests, and certain additional procedures.

The program is designed to last for two years and evaluate the possibility of expanding chiropractic coverage in Medicare across the entire program. Centers for Medicare Services Administrator Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D noted, "Medicare currently only pays for a limited number of services from doctors of chiropractic, even though chiropractic services may be less costly alternatives to other types of medical care." He continued, "By expanding chiropractic coverage in this demonstration, we are reducing out-of-pocket costs for seniors who visit chiropractors, and we will learn whether paying chiropractors for delivering these additional services can help improve health outcomes and keep Medicare costs down."