Chiropractors want Arizona program to cover their care

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5 File Photo) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 File Photo)
PHOENIX (AP) -

Chiropractors in Arizona plan to push during the next legislative session for the state's Medicaid program to cover their care - and they are citing the opioid crisis to bolster the request.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports that Arizona Association of Chiropractic is talking with stakeholders to decide whether to ask for a pilot program or full coverage for people covered under the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS.

[RELATED: Health insurance open enrollment starts in Arizona]

Currently, only people younger than 21 on AHCCCS are covered for chiropractic care.

Other AHCCCS patients may want to use chiropractic care, but chiropractors have to tell them to pay cash, said Barry Aarons, the lobbyist for the association.

Wayne Bennett, a Prescott chiropractor, said one of the most frustrating parts of his job is encountering AHCCCS patients with chronic pain who can't access chiropractic care because they can't afford it.

Aarons and Bennett said there are several recent studies and guidelines that call for further investigating "non-pharmacological" means to address chronic pain, like massage, physical therapy or chiropractic care.

[RELATED: Health Net 2018 Arizona health premiums rise just 2 percent]

In particular, both men referred to guidelines put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March 2016 that suggested further exploration of treatments including exercise or physical therapy instead of opioids to manage chronic pain.

The push for funding by tying chiropractic care to the opioid crisis jibes with Gov. Doug Ducey's agenda. The governor declared a public health emergency on opioids earlier this year and has created a task force to come up with recommendations and require additional reporting.

Daniel Scarpinato, Ducey's spokesman, said the governor's office is always willing to hear any ideas that could improve public health, especially for people living with addiction, but the governor would need more details on how such coverage would be funded and how many people could be helped.

[RELATED: Blue Cross backs off Arizona health premium rise in 2018]

And the governor's first financial priority remains K-12 education, though there will be room in the budget for some other spending, Scarpinato said.

Ducey's staff would need to consult people outside the industry, who would not benefit financially from adding chiropractic care to AHCCCS, to make sure the policy was sound, Scarpinato said.

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