Is it payback time for chiropractors for opposing a highly controversial mandatory vaccination bill?
Both legislative versions of the state budget appropriate tens of millions of extra dollars to erase a 10 percent reduction in payments to those who provide medical care to the state’s poor under the Medi-Cal program.
But both budgets also exclude chiropractors from the restoration of payments that would go to medical doctors, hospitals and other providers. The 2011 fee reduction was imposed to help balance the state budget.
Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, suggested during an Assembly Budget Committee review Wednesday that the exclusion might be retribution for the California Chiropractic Association’s vociferous opposition to legislation that would eliminate parents’ right to opt out of vaccinations for children entering public schools.
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Democrats who dominate the committee denied that the exclusion is a payback, but didn’t offer any specific reason for the action. They basically told Jones that it was just happenstance.
“I’m not going to draw any conclusions,” Jones said later, saying he raised the issue to draw public and media attention to it.
Dr. Brian Stenzler, president of the chiropractic group, said Wednesday it is investigating whether the chiropractor exclusion in legislative budget bills is a punishment and “If it’s true…it’s a sad day when the CMA limits access to health care.”
The California Medical Association, a strong supporter of the vaccination bill, has accused the chiropractic association of encouraging bill opponents to stalk proponents. But the latter has denied the accusation and, in return, says the CMA is using “bullying tactics.”
The vaccination bill, Senate Bill 277, has been approved by the Senate and is now pending in the Assembly.
Its author, Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and other advocates say that vaccination rates have fallen to levels that could spawn epidemics. Medical and public health groups support the bill while the chiropractic association has backed parents who dislike the mandate. Opponents contend that vaccinations themselves can cause disabling illnesses.