With National Healthcare Reform being debated in Washington D.C., representatives from the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC) recently met with members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation and their staffs in Washington D.C. to discuss various federal issues in regards to the impact chiropractic care has on their constituents and to ask for support in sponsoring two pieces of legislation that eliminate disparities in access by veterans to chiropractic care.
The ANJC represents over 1600 practicing New Jersey chiropractors, treating over one million patients annually and is the fourth largest chiropractic association in the nation. During their appearance February 24-27 in Washington D.C. as part of the American Chiropractic Association's 2010 National Chiropractic Legislative Conference with the Chiropractic Summit, ANJC representatives briefed the New Jersey Congressional Delegation on four major health issues:
· National Healthcare Reform and Access of Chiropractic Care given Paradigm Shift to Wellness Care;
· Medicare Beneficiaries Deserving Expanded Access to Chiropractic Care;
· Expanding TRICARE Beneficiary Access to Chiropractic Care for Active/ Retired Military Personnel, Dependents and Survivors within the Dept of Defense; and
· Eliminate Disparities in Veterans' Access to Chiropractic Care.
"Our meetings with the NJ Congressional Delegation allowed ANJC to discuss how chiropractic care is an essential component of the nation's health delivery system and the importance for members of Congress and the Obama Administration to fully integrate chiropractic care into a delivery system prioritized towards the delivery of wellness care," said Dr. Sigmund Miller, Executive Director of the ANJC."It also allowed us to speak directly to the importance of having our representatives help sponsor legislation that would directly eliminate the disparities in access to chiropractic care that our veterans and their families are experiencing. Many of our ANJC members are currently treating returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq, who are experiencing problems with back pain, for free because of a lack of benefits allocated for chiropractic treatment," added Miller.
ANJC officials met with Congressmen Rodney Frelinghuysen, Leonard Lance and John Adler on all these issues. ANJC also briefed staff members from the offices of Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Frank LoBiondo, Rush Holt, Donald Payne, Steven Rothman, Chris Smith, and Albio Sires.
ANJC asked for New Jersey congressional support of HR1017, the Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act," introduced by House VA Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA), which would phase-in the placement of doctors of chiropractic at all major DVA medical centers. In the Senate, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Member of the Senate VA Committee has introduced similar legislation (S1204) which would expand access to chiropractic care within the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) system.
ANJC also asked the Congressional delegation to support and sponsor HR 484, introduced in the 111th Congress by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) a member of the House Armed Services Committee, to provide retirees, dependents and survivor beneficiaries in the military TRICARE system, with a benefit that is now available to many in the private sector (access to chiropractic care and services to address pain management, neuromusculoskeletal disorders and related maladies).
The process of integrating chiropractic care into the DVA system was initiated over the past decade after Congress took action. Prior to the intervention of Congress, no doctors of chiropractic served on the staff of any DVA treatment facility and the availability of chiropractic care for eligible veterans was limited to DVA "referrals" to doctors of chiropractic serving in private practice outside of the DVA system. Despite progress, the overwhelming majority of America's eligible veterans continue to be denied access to chiropractic care because the DVA has failed to take any significant action to provide chiropractic care at nearly 120 additional major DVA treatment facilities that comprise the major sites where DVA care is offered. The DVA has no doctors of chiropractic on staff at these locations and referrals to for chiropractic care outside of DVA's system are rarely provided at these locations.