A Senate Bill Has Been Introduced… What Does That Mean?
On Thursday, April 7, just before a two-week congressional recess, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), joined by his colleagues Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), introduced S. 4042, the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act, a bipartisan companion to the legislation of the same name, H.R. 2654, in the House. The Senate bill was immediately referred to the Finance committee, which has jurisdiction over all matters related to the Medicare program.
While it’s nice to have the same bill now introduced in both chambers, why is it so significant? The answer is simple, yet multidimensional. Basically, a companion bill shows support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Also important is that a companion bill lends an added sense of credibility to the cause. What we are attempting to do here is create full access to existing benefits for chiropractic Medicare beneficiaries and bring chiropractic coverage into the 21st century. S. 4042 and its House version, H.R. 2654, do that—in essence, support in both chambers legitimizes the cause.
Additionally, a bill now in both chambers opens further opportunities for passage. Senate rules are less structured than those in the House — though it’s not common, a senator could simply bring S. 4042 to the floor and ask that it be passed by what is called “unanimous consent.” Also, S. 4042 was referred to just one committee, Finance, while in the House, Ways and Means have primary jurisdiction but the Energy and Commerce Committee has a slice, as well.
On the other side, the Senate has often been called, “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” in that Senate legislation can often be caught up in partisan squabbling and floor tactics such as the filibuster. This practice has come under greater scrutiny recently, especially given the 50-50 Democrat-to-Republican split that we have today.
ACA strategy is to make the bill’s language included as part of a larger must-pass piece of legislation. However, if the opportunity presents itself, we would certainly support the passage of the bill as a stand-alone measure. While legislation often tends to move at a glacial pace on Capitol Hill, we must always remain vigilant of any “target of opportunity” that may arise with little notice or fanfare.
How Can You Help?
Additional cosponsors are key here, as they are for the House bill. Cosponsor numbers show support, and strong numbers are undeniable truths when it comes time to move legislation to the floor. There are a number of ways you can help generate more cosponsors:
- Coordinate with your ACA delegate and schedule a meeting with your legislators either in-person or via Zoom. You can find helpful information on setting up a meeting here.
- You can also contact your senators and representative through the ACA Legislative Action Center and send a message to your elected officials in Washington by clicking here. Make sure your colleagues, patients, family, and friends do the same—the old adage “the more cosponsors we have the greater the likelihood of our success” certainly remains true here.
- Finally, be visible in your community and with your elected officials, on all levels, on this issue and others. As healthcare leaders, your voice matters and your influence is strong. Become a fierce advocate for your patients. Together, we will win this race.
John Falardeau is ACA senior vice president of public policy and advocacy. For questions about S. 4042/H.R. 2654, visit acatoday.org/Medicare or call (703) 276-8800.