In April, New York State made a progressive move against opioid abuse, which also brought chiropractic to the forefront of options for care.

The New York Chiropractic Council announced recently that the state’s 2020-21 budget establishes a  new Medicaid pilot program in which chiropractic must be offered as an alternative to opioids.

Research has shown repeatedly that chiropractic care may have a profound effect on those with back pain. One recent study, which included data from six smaller studies, stated that people who saw a chiropractor were 64% less likely to use opioids than people who didn’t, researchers reported in the journal Pain Medicine.

New York State’s pilot program, authorized in the recent state budget, will get the final green light once Medicaid approves the program. The program provides for “non-pharmacologic treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic services as an alternative to opioid treatment for individuals suffering from chronic lower back pain.”

John LaMonica, DCThe council views the pilot program as part of its wider efforts to highlight chiropractic care and position chiropractic as a first choice before even receiving a prescription for opioid care, says Dr. John LaMonica, one of the three area chiropractors who has been meeting with legislators and testifying at various New York State Joint Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addiction & Overdose Prevention hearings across the region.

“We’ve been working with the Senate opioid task force for the last several years,” he said. Dr. LaMonica, with Dr. Joe Baudille and Dr. Bryan Ludwig, testified repeatedly about the benefits of chiropractic. “We testified many times, met with legislators individually and took time to explain it, and they were really very interested,” Dr. LaMonica said.

“The whole idea is not only to get people off drugs and opioids but prevent them from starting on an opioid in the first place,” Dr. LaMonica said.

Following months of effective advocacy by the council, the pilot program was negotiated into the governor’s budget bill and will be developed within the confines of Medicaid to offer chiropractic care, and other non-pharmacological options such as acupuncture, as an option to opioids. The program targets patients with low back pain.

“It’s a start,” Dr. LaMonica said. “It’s a big step for New York State to do this. This pilot program essentially paves the way for these patients to receive chiropractic care rather than receiving an opioid prescription.” Chiropractors provide care for many things, including overall wellness, but in this instance with low back pain, the pilot program provides a definitive new direction that may now be offered on a wider scale, to a population that desperately needs an alternative to addictive painkillers.

New York State Senator and opioid task force Chairman Peter Harckham acknowledged that this is a tremendous accomplishment for the chiropractic profession in New York, according to a press release from the New York Chiropractic Council. The senator also added that the pilot program is a direct result of the council’s unwavering advocacy and repeated testimony on the opioid crisis before state officials at various forums.

Dr. LaMonica has served the chiropractic profession for more than three decades in various positions for both state and national chiropractic organizations. He is the immediate past president for the New York Chiropractic Council, as well as a past president for the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations.

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