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Sweeney-Weinberg Bill To Expand Scope Of Chiropractic Medicine In NJ Receives Final Legislative Approval

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 approved by the Senate today by a vote of 23-11, receiving final legislative approval.

“The public perception and understanding of chiropractic medicine has definitely evolved over the last fifty years, but the regulations are still stuck in the 1950s,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “We need to update the scope of chiropractic medicine under the law, rather than try to force chiropractic medical professionals to practice 21st Century medicine under a regulatory structure that’s frozen in the middle of the last century. This bill recognizes the advances in chiropractic medicine and sets an appropriate standard for the services that chiropractors can provide.”

“The last time New Jersey updated the regulations concerning chiropractors, doctors were appearing in advertisements telling viewers which brand of cigarettes they should smoke,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “While the rest of the health care community has thankfully come a long way from the 1950s, chiropractors are still forced to practice in the restrictive environment established by 1950s-era regulation. This bill creates some fairness for chiropractors who have completed a rigorous medical education and are fully qualified to perform a wider variety of services than they’re currently allowed to perform in the Garden State.”

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 require chiropractors to carry medical malpractice liability insurance – something that isn’t currently required under current law. Finally, the bill would 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.

“By expanding the scope of practice for New Jersey’s highly qualified chiropractors, we can hopefully encourage more competition in the health care marketplace,” said Senator Weinberg. “Increased competition will in turn ensure higher quality of services at a reduced cost to the health care consumer. While the main focus of this bill is to relieve some of the burden of archaic restrictions on chiropractors, a result will be more access to care and more competition for business among New Jersey’s health care providers.”

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 is a reasonable update to our State’s outdated, restrictive regulatory scheme regarding New Jersey chiropractors,” said Senator Sweeney. It’s long past due that New Jersey health care regulators take a look at the scope of practice and regulations governing chiropractors, and where appropriate, allow them to provide some of the services that they’re trained and qualified to perform.”

The bill was approved by the Assembly earlier today by a vote of 64-4, with 8 abstentions. It now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.

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