Chiropractors Point Out Critical Flaws in Workers’ Comp Legislation Permanent Disability Proposals

February 13, 2004

At a state Senate hearing earlier this week, the California Chiropractic Association (CCA) outlined a series of fundamental weaknesses in pending workers’ compensation reform bills SBX4 3 and ABX4 1. In short, CCA testified that last year’s legislation will cut chiropractic care by as much as 70 percent and that new legislation would simply seek to eliminate chiropractic care altogether.

“We should all be honest about this,” said Dr. Doug Wilson, president and a practicing doctor of chiropractic from Santa Maria, in a statement. “No other state in the nation restricts chiropractors from making a determination of disability. Years ago, California voters used the initiative process to ensure people in this state had access to chiropractic care. This year’s legislation is simply an effort to eliminate chiropractic care for injured workers.” “There is no credible evidence that chiropractic care produces higher rates of disability than other medical treatment,” continued Dr. Wilson. “The foundation of this proposal is arbitrary and it is built on a series of false promises. Removing chiropractic care as a choice for injured workers will not save the state money. Removing chiropractic care as a choice for injured workers will not save employers money. Removing chiropractic care as a choice for injured workers will not save workers money. Removing chiropractic care from the workers’ compensation system will only enable other medical providers to increase their costs for services such as surgery, drugs and other therapies.”

The hearing in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee was to review provisions of workers’ comp legislation regarding permanent disability.

Under the proposed legislation, Doctors of Chiropractic would lose the ability to determine when a worker may return to work, or whether the worker should be placed on temporary or permanent disability. These restrictions would require an injured worker who received chiropractic treatment to make unnecessary visits to a medical doctor before returning to work, before being placed on temporary disability or permanent disability.

CCA believes this new layer of bureaucracy would increase costs and effectively freeze chiropractic doctors out of the workers’ comp system by making chiropractic care prohibitively expensive.

The proposal is reportedly misguided and counterproductive because chiropractors receive extensive training in the clinical evaluation of diseases and their disabling effects on patients, the basis for making determinations of temporary and permanent disability. A chiropractor’s four years of post-graduate study is focused on anatomy, physiology, pathology and patient assessment. The training eventually covers every organ system of the human body and the disease processes that can afflict it.

In California, doctors of chiropractic are required by law to refer to another health care provider any patient with a condition that will not respond to chiropractic care.

“Chiropractors are trained and licensed to serve as primary care doctors. We are well qualified to determine disability,” said Wilson. “We take pride in our profession and our ability to alleviate pain, rehabilitate injuries and return injured workers back to work quickly. This proposal has no known cost savings but certainly will be costly in terms of pain for injured workers who would be denied the most effective treatment for their injuries.”

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