SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Medicaid patients could soon have another treatment option.
A bill going through the legislature would allow Medicaid patients to get treated by a chiropractor, a service that is not currently available to them.
The bill specifies this wouldn't add any additional services; the physician would practice within their scope of practice for conditions already covered by Medicaid.
Doctor Gary Meek, owner of Meek Chiropractic in Springfield, says most people seek help for lower back pain.
"That's about 60 percent of our business," he said. "Followed by the neck, upper back, and headaches."
He says chiropractic treatment can help people in daily lives activities.
"Go back to work, playing sports, getting in and out of their car, grandparents that aren't able to get on the floor and play with their grandkids," he said.
And Medicaid patients could have this as an option in the future.
According to Empower Missouri, $990,000 people in the state benefit from Medicaid. More than half are children. This means two in every five kids are under the program. And three in every five seniors.
The goal of the bill is to decrease the number of people on prescription drugs and save the state money.
Dr. Meek says about half of his patients who first come in are taking over the counter or prescription painkillers, which he says can cause complications.
"They're trying to find an option away from meds," he said. "200,000 hospitalizations a year from G.I. bleeding and a little over 17,000 deaths a year in the United States. And if you look at opioid that is the number one killer among people under age 50."
A study by the Agency of Healthcare Policy and Research found "objective evidence that spinal manipulation was probably at least as effective for low back pain as most standard medical treatments."
And in 2017, the American College of Physicians published that "physicians and patients should treat acute or subacute low back pain with non-drug therapies such as superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation."
Those who oppose the bill say the Medicaid system is already exhausted and primary care should be a priority, and that X-Rays at the chiropractor will cause prices to go up.
But those in favor say it's 40 percent cheaper to go to a chiropractor, and Dr. Meek says for the patient the benefits are a safer, healthier option.
"If you find a conservative way to treat that without putting a chemical in your body, you're going to be better off," Dr. Meek said.
The bill has passed and is awaiting Gov. Parson's signature.
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