The chiropractors were out in force, lobbying for months to get their services included in every state’s package of essential health benefits that will be guaranteed under the new health care law.
“We’ve been in constant contact with our state chapters, just telling them, ‘Look, you’ve got to get in the room,’ ” said John Falardeau, senior vice president of government relations at the American Chiropractic Association.
The acupuncturists were modest by comparison, ultimately focusing on a few states, like California, where they had the best odds of being included.
“Our profession really didn’t have a million dollars to spend on a lobbyist,” said Jeannie Kang, the immediate past president of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Instead, they mobilized 20,000 acupuncturists and their patients in a letter-writing campaign.
Both efforts seem to have shown results. Most of the roughly two dozen states that have chosen their essential benefits — services that insurance will have to cover under the law — have decided to include chiropractic care in their package. Four states — California, Maryland, New Mexico and Washington — included acupuncture for treating pain, nausea and other ailments. It is also likely to be an essential benefit in Alaska and Nevada, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
This is exactly why having government involved in health care is such a tangled mess, and leads to costs rising. There’s plenty of dispute over what health care plans should cover (the Times piece goes on to discuss whether obesity and infertility treatments should be covered). But why should the state get to decide what insurance plans must cover, particularly when we’re talking about non-life threatening matters? Now, everyone in these states that include acupuncture and chiropractor treatments will be forced to have pricier insurance that cover those treatments, instead of having the choice between going for the more expensive plans (that include acupuncture and chiropractic care), and less expensive plans, which offer more minimal coverage. The states are never going to bend the cost curve if they just keep insisting on everyone having access to all sorts of treatments beyond the basic necessities.