WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Drug abuse and addiction is a major issue in our country today. From 1999-2017, 700,000 Americans died from drug overdose. One area that is particularly alarming is the current abuse and addiction of opioid pain medication. In 2017 alone, over 47,000 Americans died from opioid drug overdose. Currently, it is estimated that 130 Americans die every day from opioid drug overdose. Needless to say, opioid overdose and addiction is a major issue that needs to be addressed. The state of Arizona is currently trying to combat this issue by adding chiropractic benefits to medicaid insurance.
WHAT IS SB 1097?
SB 1097 is a senate bill that would allow patients covered under Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) to get a prescription from a primary care physician for 20 visits per year. This benefit would be for those suffering from acute or chronic pain and would serve as an alternative to opioid pain medication. 20 visits per year is a great start and may serve a majority of acute cases, but some patients suffering from chronic pain may require additional visits. Arizona is thinking ahead and has added the caveat of providing additional visits at the patients discretion.
DO OTHER STATES OFFER THESE BENEFITS?
The idea of adding chiropractic care to decrease opioid pain prescriptions, and ultimately opioid pain abuse and overdose, is not a new concept. In fact, over 27 states offer chiropractic coverage under their version of medicaid. One of the best examples is Rhode Island. A study was done after Rhode Island implemented chiropractic coverage in their state’s version of medicaid. The results were absolutely mind blowing. First, they saw a 36% decrease in per-patient costs. This shows that while chiropractic care my involve more frequent visits, the total cost on the healthcare system is dramatically lower. Even more astonishing was that opioid pain use decreased by 87%! This is one of the clearest cases that proves how effective chiropractic care is at decreasing and eliminating pain. Lastly, they saw that opioid pain prescriptions decreased by 72%. All of these results compare those that utilized chiropractic care to those that did not (control group). Imagine the amazing results we would see with higher participation levels.
HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST THE STATE OF ARIZONA?
It is estimated that adding these benefits would cost the state $4.9 million. But overall, this avenue is expected to decrease overall spending of Arizona’s version of medicaid. If we look to the Rhode Island case study, we can expect to see up to a 36% decrease in overall costs. However, this relies on program participation.
KILLING TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE
This is an amazingly creative way for Arizona to fight two issues at once: healthcare costs and opioid pain medication abuse. It is amazing to think that expanding coverage and adding benefits could, not only give patients more options when facing chronic or acute pain, but could also fight two of the biggest problems facing our healthcare system today.
In my personal practice, I have witnessed first-hand the affects that just 20 principle chiropractic visits can have on a persons life. From my experience, patients that come in with a long time opioid prescription do not want to be on these medications. They are simply on these medications because they have not been offered an alternative method for controlling their pain. When I say chiropractic care saves lives, this is what I am talking about. Every single day, chiropractors all over the world help patients control and eliminate pain where the only alternative given was opioid pain medication.
The Movement is here. People are beginning to catch wind of the amazing benefits that chiropractic care can have on our communities. If you have chronic or acute pain and feel as though there are no alternatives to pain medication, or if you have accepted that nothing can help your pain, call a local chiropractor today.
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