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ICA Responds to USA TODAY Front Page Article on Chiropractors and Medicare

The International Chiropractors Association (ICA) was disappointed but not surprised by today’s front page article in USA Today regarding chiropractic expenditures in the federal Medicare program.  “Unfortunately, the authors of this misleading piece chose to cast Medicare spending on chiropractic services in a deliberately confusing light,” said ICA President Dr. Michael S. McLean.  “Instead of noting the highly cost-effective nature of this unique service, which stands in stark contrast to the massively more costly and less effective surgical and pharmaceutical options open to Medicare patients, they elected to focus on the costs, neglecting to mention that total chiropractic spending in Medicare represents barely one-sixth of one percent of the program’s annual total outlay”.
ICA was particularly concerned about a reference made in the April 30, 2014 article to the “…indictment of a Wichita chiropractor for a $1.3 billion fraud scheme.”   The ICA has always maintained a vigorous zero tolerance policy on issues of fraud and abuse by chiropractic practitioners but feels obliged to note that the $1.3 billion case is referenced in numerous other articles, including an October 18, 2013 story in The Wichita Eagle which set the figure at $1.3 million.  “One is deeply concerned over both the possibility that this figure was intentionally altered by the authors, or, more likely, that sloppy research methods were employed which might call the accuracy of the entire story into question,” said Dr. McLean. 
ICA urges all who read this story to understand that Medicare is not welfare but a program into which all working Americans are obliged to pay all their working lives.  In this program, Medicare beneficiaries are entitled to choose the care pathway and services that they feel best meet their individual health care needs.  The irrefutable fact that over many decades millions of Medicare beneficiaries have chosen chiropractic care as their preferred means to address their personal health issues is the best and most compelling evidence of the need for and effectiveness of these unique services. 
The research record clearly validates chiropractic as a safe, effective care pathway for a wide-ranging group of problems.  As a drugless, non-surgical care model, chiropractic addresses the needs of patients, for whom such care has been found to be appropriate, with minimal complications and at a tiny portion of the cost of other forms of care.  Finding cost-effective care pathways and methodologies for common and expensive conditions has long been a policy goal for federal authorities and chiropractic’s availability in Medicare is one very positive public policy success story. 
“In a health care system awash with pharmaceuticals, the abuse and side-effects of which are becoming major public health issues in and of themselves, the availability of a safe, proven and clinically effective drugless care pathway such as chiropractic offers takes on a new and compelling importance, especially within the nation’s aging population,” said Dr. McLean.  “ICA is proud of the services provided to millions of our nation’s senior citizens through Medicare and will continue to work to protect any patient’s right to select the healthcare provider and pathway of their personal choice.” 


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To read the original USA Today articel and make a comment on it follow this link:


Chiropractic as a Drugless Approach to Health Care

Falls Church, Virginia, November 21, 2013: In an historic and profoundly significant unanimous position statement, the more than 40 organizations that comprise The Chiropractic Summit have adopted a clear and concise public position on chiropractic science and practice as a drug-free approach to health care. At a meeting of the Summit organizations in Seattle, Washington on November 7, 2013, the Summit adopted the following statement:

The drug issue is a non-issue because no chiropractic organization in the Summit promotes the inclusion of prescription drug rights and all chiropractic organizations in the Summit support the drug-free approach to health care.

“This definitive and unequivocal position statement puts to rest any question as to position of all of the credible organizations within the chiropractic profession on the issue of drugs,” said ICA President Dr. Michael S. McLean. “This united front will allow the world of chiropractic to move forward with a new focus on the essentials of chiropractic’s unique approach to health and healing and stop the divisive and wasteful efforts required to address the drug agenda of a tiny sliver of the profession.”

For nearly a century the ICA has advocated clear lines of distinction between the health care professions and stood for a drugless, non-surgical national definition of chiropractic. Unique among chiropractic organizations, ICA has maintained a no-compromise policy on the issue of drugs in chiropractic and has acted on a wide range of fronts, legislative, legal and in the media, to preserve this unique and highly positive aspect of chiropractic.
ICA has been outspoken about all professions being obliged to qualify to perform any service at the highest standard of education and testing. It is on this basis, for example, that ICA has challenged the physical therapy profession’s desire to expand their scope in numerous states to include spinal manipulation, with a less than adequate level of education. The authority to prescribe and administer medications has traditionally been understood under the law as the practice of medicine.

ICA holds that the public is entitled to one truly drug-free system of health care and doctors of chiropractic are fully trained and qualified to fill that role with proven clinical and cost effectiveness. For more than a century, the marketplace has sustained and supported chiropractic on the basis of its unique, drugless approach to health and healing. This is especially crucial at a time when our society at-large is recognizing the alarming complexities, costs and complications of a drug-based approach to treatment and the trend is strongly in the direction of a minimalist approach regarding drugs, and with good reason.

“The unanimously adopted Summit statement has stopped any erosion of chiropractic’s positive, clear identity from the issue of drugs and established a firm, positive foundation on which powerful new growth for our profession can be anchored,” said Dr. McLean. “ICA is proud of its historic position on drugs and excited that the vital center of the profession, as represented by the Summit, has now come together with us. It is the right thing to do for chiropractic practitioner, patient and for our national health care system.”


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