Recently Doctors of Chiropractic have stepped up the fight for their patient rights. In several different US states the issues have made it to the courtrooms. In one such action in the state of Washington, the Washington State Chiropractic Association (WSCA), recently filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) against Regence/Blue Shield. The complaint, filed April 10th, 2001 seeks relief for actions and contemplated actions by Regence/Blue Shield against chiropractors and other complementary and alternative care professionals. The purpose of the lawsuit is to get Regence/Blue Shield to abide by the “Patient Bill of Rights” state law that allows patients to see their chiropractors without a prior physician referral, and requires disclosure of utilization management guidelines for healthcare providers, including chiropractic and alternative providers. “The WSCA wants nothing more than for Regence to accept and follow state insurance laws without resorting to tactics that will blunt the effect and purpose of these laws,” stated John Peick, attorney for the WSCA.
In another action ten Alabama chiropractors have filed suit against Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BC/BS) of Alabama for discriminating against chiropractors. The suit alleges two antitrust violations of the Sherman Act: restraint of trade or commerce in an agreement with HealthSouth Corp., and monopolizing or attempting to monopolize health care reimbursement services in Alabama. Along with other issues the suit also alleges that BC/BS has engaged in establishing severely restrictive benefit limits for chiropractic services that are arbitrary and without reasonable justification and reimbursing chiropractors at a much lower rate than the reimbursements paid to other providers for comparable services.
In still another legal battle the New York State Chiropractic Association, in conjunction with several individual doctors of chiropractic and chiropractic patients, has filed suit against seven of the largest health plans and managed care networks in New York state. The suit alleges the insurance industry’s apparent failure to comply with the requirements set down in the New York Chiropractic Insurance Equality Law, a law designed to protect patient’s rights. The suit charges the plans with fee discrimination; unreasonable fee and benefit limits; improper restrictions on the scope of chiropractic practice and the services chiropractors provide to health plan beneficiaries; as well as other practices that discriminate against chiropractic patients and their doctors.
Recently more of these types of actions are being taken on behalf of chiropractic patients. The goal of all of these is always to allow patients the right to choose chiropractic care with out having any additional hardships or discrimination. As more people are going to chiropractors and demanding that these services be available, more of these types of actions will be brought up to protect and ensure the patient’s rights.