On May 10, 2017 the 110th General Assembly officially adjourned and chiropractic was powerfully represented in what has been a marathon legislative session for our bills this year!
The aggressively proactive legislative agenda approved by the TCA Board of Directors was the most extensive that we have brought in over two decades. Chiropractic issues were heard in numerous committees this session, from Health and Insurance to Gov’t Ops, Finance, and Commerce & Labor.
Communications at every level—TCA bill sponsors, lobbyists and grassroots efforts, helped maneuver our bills through hectic proceedings and unanticipated twists and turns. Through it all, the TCA and its members remained steadily fixed on these goals knowing it is not always about speed, but about the ability to persevere.
Thanks to the hard work of many, the TCA is pleased to report the passage of critical bills which represent huge victories for Tennessee chiropractic physicians and the patients you serve!
The Chiropractic Practice Act Bill (SB313 / HB387) has passed its final hurdle on the Senate floor and is on its way to the Governor. The changes provide clarity to the high level of training Chiropractic Physicians receive, better describes the services they provide and strengthens diagnosis, examination and treatment procedures to protect and defend chiropractic practice. Incredible support sustained our efforts through the leadership of President, Dr. R.J. Crawford and the dedication of TCA Gold Members, Dr. Andrew Dixon and Dr. Cole Hosenfeld, who traveled multiple times over several weeks to be present at crucial committee meetings on behalf of Tennessee chiropractic physicians.
“Our current statute does not represent the full breadth of the modern-day chiropractor. The profession has advanced through evidence-based measures yielding clinical best practices which the current scope of practice does not represent and is vague or silent on many important aspects of the discipline,” said Cole Hosenfeld, DC, DACBSP, and member of the TN Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
It has been over 30 years since the Practice Act has been updated to this extent, and we are extremely grateful for the strength that our bill sponsors, Sen. Ed Jackson (R-Jackson) and Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville), brought to this bill. We also extend sincere thanks to Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) who was instrumental in the passage of this bill.
The Health Care Empowerment Act Bill (SB224 / HB334) has been signed by Gov. Haslam and is now in effect. The law names DCs among those providers who may enter into a written contractual agreement with a patient, for an agreed fee over an agreed period of time, to provide primary care services to the patient without billing insurance, but still allowing you to meet compliance of provider contracts. Special thanks to our bill sponsors Rep. Sabi Kumar, MD (R-Springfield) and Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) who have worked hard toward the passage of this legislation. We must also thank Rep. Bill Beck (D-Nashville) for standing on the House Floor to speak on the need for this bill and voice his support in the midst of opposition.
Additional 2017 TCA legislative priorities included: support for the Health Care Provider Stability Act, which passed this session, limiting how often insurance companies can make changes to fee schedules and payment policies/methodologies and requiring more transparency when those changes are made; efforts to reduce the Professional Privilege Tax which continues to be a priority; and persistent promotion of chiropractic as a solution to the opioid epidemic in Tennessee. There were numerous other bills which were not specifically on our agenda, but that TCA lobbyists have monitored and addressed, which impact chiropractic.
These victories would not have been possible without the work of TCA Lobbyists Alexanderia Honeycutt, Tiffany Stevens, and John Williams. Their consistent presence on “the Hill”, tireless energy in communicating the importance of these bills and expertise were invaluable to our efforts!
But, most of all, thank you to all our TCA members and TCA PAC contributors for your support and for taking the time to get involved at the grassroots level!
Practice resources are being finalized as a benefit to TCA members and TCA PAC contributors, and a full report of bills pertinent to the profession will be provided soon via the TCA Members Only Website.
Why is the TCA Unique When it Comes to Lobbying?
Our legislators as decision-makers do not always have experience or access to information on how their constituents and patients of chiropractic might be affected. It is our job as chiropractic advocates to educate our elected officials and be certain that they have the information they need to make the best decisions possible.
There is no shortage of paid lobbyists and special interests groups who aggressively try to influence Tennessee legislators; however, the TCA is the only statewide association advocating for chiropractic in the midst of numerous lobbyists for other provider groups, business interests, insurers and others. While our strong team of TCA lobbyists speaks out for chiropractic on “the Hill”, state legislators are most responsive to their constituents – people who vote in their districts. They also feel the need to know that a specific issue is a priority in their community, and it takes the people who live and work in the community to sway them.
Why is Lobbying Necessary?
The Tennessee Chiropractic Association encourages informed and active participation in government, with the aim to ensure that chiropractic physicians’ voices are an important part of political dialogue on issues impacting the profession.
Our legislators as decision-makers do not always have experience or access to information on how a particular bill might affect their constituents. As sessions become more and more fast-paced, we cannot be guaranteed that they have even had the opportunity to fully review every bill that comes before them for their vote. It is our job as chiropractic advocates to educate our elected officials and be certain that they have the information they need to make the best decisions possible.
Legislators Need to Hear from You
Tennessee’s state senators and representatives come from diverse backgrounds; many are not healthcare experts and may have no chiropractic experience, yet they must vote on these issues when a bill comes before them. As a healthcare expert, you are uniquely qualified to help your elected representatives understand the practical implications of healthcare policy proposals. It is vital that legislators hear from you.
What Can I Do?
It is the TCA’s goal to promote and secure passage of our legislative objectives by the state’s legislators. To focus the tremendous grassroots power of the chiropractic profession, your TCA has developed a Legislative Ambassador network. The aim of the program is to ensure that each and every member of the General Assembly has continual contact with, and input from, his/her local Doctors of Chiropractic. If you have a personal or good working relationship with one of Tennessee’s House or Senate Members or would like to initiate one, we want to know as this can be critical in the communication process to urgent legislative issues. The goal is never threaten or antagonize, but to build a relationship and influence discussion on the basis of your knowledge and understanding of the issue.
Below, the TCA has compiled a list to assist our members to be strong grassroots advocates for the chiropractic profession.