This is part of a series examining the Medicaid benefits that the radical right wants to cut.
Chiropractic services are probably the most commonly attacked benefit available through Medicaid. In the dream world of the far right, low-income people are lining up in droves to get weekly taxpayer subsidized massages.
In reality, however, the benefit is extremely limited.
In North Carolina chiropractors are essentially used to relieve pinched nerves or sharp back pain. Maintenance programs to treat chronically bum backs or to prevent deterioration are not covered. Ongoing corrective care to prevent the recurrence of a patient's condition is not covered. Preventive care, massage therapy, and rehabilitation are not covered. Spinal manipulation to help pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, or scoliosis is not covered.
The patient can get one X-ray covered by Medicaid to demonstrate that a medical need exists and then two weeks of treatment. After the initial two weeks, if no improvement is shown, the chiropractor must modify the plan of care. If no improvement is documented after 30 days of modified treatment then Medicaid cuts off funding.
A review of the scientific literature on chiropractic services conducted by Massachusetts officials found evidence that chiropractors can effectively treat uncomplicated low-back pain, which is primarily what the North Carolina Medicaid program covers. Chiropractic care provides similar results to other treatments for back pain and enjoys high patient satisfaction.
In cases where chiropractic care works as a substitute for expensive surgeries the treatment can actually save money.
So much for the poor getting massages on the public dole.