Sen. Jeanie Riddle’s Legislative Column for the Week of Feb. 26, 2018

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Providing Cost Effective Care to Missourians in Need

Too often in our society, people believe a handful of pain killers is the proper prescription for a sore back. But in some cases, a trip to a specialist, such as a chiropractor, can cure our aches and pains. Currently, chiropractic services are covered by many private insurance plans and Medicare but are not included in Missouri’s Medicaid program, MO HealthNet. According to the American Chiropractic Association, the likelihood of someone needing surgery for back injuries is more than 42 percent when they first discuss the issue with their doctor. However, that rate drops to 1.5 percent when the individual first visits with a chiropractor to discuss their injury. The amount of money someone could save by simply visiting a chiropractor and avoiding surgery for their back injury is astounding.

This is one of the many reasons why I filed Senate Bill 597, which was recently approved by the Missouri Senate without any opposition. This legislation authorizes Missouri HealthNet, Missouri’s Medicaid program, to cover up to 20 chiropractic visits per year for Missouri HealthNet participants. I believe by covering chiropractic services, the state will see numerous benefits.

A study conducted in Tennessee by Blue Cross Blue Shield showed that when individuals visited a chiropractor first for back pain, they saw a 40 percent savings in their health care costs. The study also estimated that if treatment for back pain started at the chiropractor’s office, the insurance company would have saved more than $2.3 million for their 85,000 subscribers. If Missouri saw similar savings in its Medicaid program, I believe it could make a huge difference in our state’s ability to take care of its most vulnerable citizens. In addition to saving taxpayer dollars, I believe my bill can also keep dangerous opioids off our streets. It’s no secret, Missouri has an opioid problem. Today, one out of every 66 deaths in Missouri can be attributed to opioid overdose. While there are certainly situations where those drugs are needed, chiropractors do not prescribe opioids for pain. As a result, patients who visit chiropractors have a greater likelihood of not being exposed to opioids for their pain, which decreases their risk of addiction. Prescription drugs are also a large driver of our state’s growing Medicaid costs, so by providing an opioid-free treatment option, I believe we can lower Missouri’s health care costs.

I was proud to see this bill pass out of the Missouri Senate without any opposition, and I am hopeful this legislation will make it to the governor’s desk before the end of the 2018 legislative session.

It is an honor to be your State Senator and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at