Governor signs Libby law to expand care options for MaineCare patients

Posted: June 28, 2018 | Senator Libby

Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law a bill from Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, to expand chiropractic care options for people with MaineCare.

As amended, the new law, LD 320, “An Act To Provide MaineCare Coverage for Chiropractic Treatment,” requires all chiropractic services that are approved by the Board of Chiropractic Licensure and performed by a chiropractic doctor to be reimbursable under the MaineCare program.

“I’m glad there was such broad, bipartisan support for this new law,” said Sen. Libby. “Expanding the ways we can alleviate patients’ pain, particularly while reducing the chance that they’ll need potentially addictive medications, is simply common sense.”

The idea for this law came to Sen. Libby when a Lewiston-based chiropractor contacted him after reading, hearing, and seeing the opiate addiction crisis continue to increase in intensity. He had seen a patient who had been diagnosed with chronic pain issues and prescribed heavy doses of opiate pain medication get weaned off opiates with chiropractic treatment for pain management. The chiropractor told Sen. Libby that if he and others in the chiropractic community were able to serve the MaineCare population, they could play a more active role in addressing addiction and chronic pain without medication therapy, potentially saving lives.

In 2017, 418 Mainers died from an overdose—an 11 percent increase from the previous year. According to a report from the Attorney General, 85 percent of the overdose deaths in Maine last year involved opioids. Some people develop substance use disorder following a legitimate prescription for an opioid to treat pain, which could potentially have been treated without medication through chiropractic treatments.

Currently only spinal x-rays and spinal manipulation are reimbursable under MaineCare, and even though MaineCare requires an initial examination before those services can be performed, the examination itself isn’t reimbursable. Additionally, other procedures which are reimbursable if a different provider were to perform them are not reimbursable if a chiropractor is the provider.

At a 2017 public hearing on LD 320, Zev Myerowitz, the Director of Chiropractic Services at Cape Chiropractic and Acupuncture said that “if these problems were corrected and chiropractors were able to render are to a population in desperate need, many chiropractic offices would rejoin as MaineCare providers and patients would have access to a treatment options that has been shown to be less costly to the healthcare system than standard medical interventions.”

Non-emergency laws, of which this is one, will be effective law 90 days after the Maine Legislature adjourns sine die from the special legislative session. There is no set date for the Legislature’s adjournment, but it is expected to return again in July to work on additional legislative business.