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A bill that would allow Medicaid recipients to seek chiropractic services without a physician referral failed Thursday in the Senate after opponents complained that it would add to the costs of the government-run health insurance program for the poor.

Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, R-Rogers, chairman of the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee, also complained that the bill was "signed" out of the committee without a vote and without her knowledge.

Sen. Ronald Caldwell, R-Wynne, presented House Bill 1183 by Rep. Jim Dotson, R-Bentonville, and said eliminating the physician referral would make for "better efficiency and patient care."

He said 866 Medicaid recipients last year had physician referrals for chiropractic services.

But Sen. David Sanders, R-Little Rock, and other critics pointed to state Department of Human Services data showing that the bill would result in up to 52,000 chiropractic visits annually at a cost of $3.4 million.

"Anytime you open up a new benefit like this, it's going to cost more," he said.

The state's fiscal 2018 budget would increase the Human Services Department's general revenue funding regarding grants, including Medicaid, by $75 million to $1.14 billion.

"There is no doubt this is going to add costs to the Medicaid program," Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Gravette, said.

Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, said spending on chiropractic services could save the program money by having recipients avoid surgery, which is more costly.

But Caldwell pointed out that the bill has been presented in committees twice at which Human Services Department officials didn't testify; and the Arkansas Medical Society, which represents medical doctors, opposed the bill in the Senate committee.

A Section on 03/31/2017

Print Headline: Senators reject Medicaid chiropractic services bill

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