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Sweeney-Weinberg Bill To Expand Scope Of Chiropractic Medicine In NJ Advances In Commerce Committee

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney and Senator Loretta Weinberg which would redefine the scope of practice of licensed chiropractors in New Jersey was released by the Senate Commerce Committee today by a vote of 4-1.

“Chiropractic medicine has come a long way in the last fifty years, but our State’s regulations are stuck in the 1950s,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “We need to bring New Jersey’s licensing and regulation of chiropractors into the 21st century, recognizing that the practice of chiropractic medicine is much more than ‘cracking backs.’ By expanding the scope of licensed chiropractors in New Jersey, we can relieve some of the restrictive policies imposed on these medical professionals and give health care consumers more choice in treatment options in the Garden State.”

“Chiropractors undergo extensive medical training and provide valuable health care services to thousands of New Jerseyans each year,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “Yet, despite the proven positive health care outcomes from chiropractic medicine, these health care professionals have seen their specialty treated like fringe medicine, even under official State regulations. New Jersey’s scope of practice is far behind most other states, and our statutes governing licensed chiropractors are woefully out-of-date. It’s time to adjust them based on the realities of modern chiropractic medicine and to make New Jersey competitive with other states.”

The bill, S-565, would expand the scope of practice of chiropractic medicine under the law beyond adjusting the articulations of the spinal column to include an individual’s extremities. Under the bill, the practice of chiropractic medicine would include, but not be limited to the reduction of chiropractic misalignment, as well as the examination, diagnosis, analysis, assessment, adjustment and treatment of joints and soft tissue and the ordering and administration of physical therapies and rehabilitative and strengthening exercises. The bill would also establish continuing education requirements for chiropractors, subjecting them to civil financial penalties or medical misconduct penalties if they fail to fulfill the continuing education standards, and would also allow licensed chiropractors in New Jersey to be called “Doctors of Chiropractic” or “Chiropractic Physicians,” to reflect the expanded scope of treatment options they would be allowed to administer under this bill.

“Licensed chiropractors are qualified to do much more than back alignments,” said Senator Weinberg. “However, our State’s restrictive policies governing the practice of chiropractic medicine create a very limited scope of practice for these health care professionals. Our State’s licensing statutes and regulatory structures should better reflect the host of health care services that chiropractors are trained and qualified to provide.”

The bill sponsors noted that New Jersey last amended the scope of practice of licensed chiropractors in 1953, and as result, New Jersey has one of the most restrictive statutes governing chiropractors’ scope of practice in the nation. The lawmakers added that while a license to practice chiropractic medicine shouldn’t be carte blanche to engage in unrestricted medical procedures, educated and licensed chiropractors are more than sufficiently equipped to offer other services that they are currently restricted from providing under the current law.

“This legislation doesn’t give chiropractors the freedom to go off and perform open-heart surgery, but it does relieve licensing and regulatory restrictions which have no basis in medical science,” said Senator Sweeney. “By expanding the scope of licensed chiropractors, we can give health care consumers in New Jersey more treatment options and increase competition among health care providers. The ultimate goal of this legislation is more accessibility and convenience to empower New Jersey’s health care consumers to make the best choices possible for themselves and their families.”

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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