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California Voters Attack
Chiropractic Insurance Fraud

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Proposition 44, which 79.4% of voters approved in the March 5 primary election, requires the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners to revoke for ten years the license of a chiropractor who is convicted for a second time, or is convicted of multiple counts in a single case, of various specified offenses, including insurance fraud. The measure requires the board to investigate any licensed chiropractor who has been criminally charged with committing insurance fraud, if the district attorney does not object to the investigation. The measure also includes as "unprofessional conduct" the hiring of "runners" by chiropractors to procure patients. Its passage was a reaction to the exposure of widespread chiropractic fraud connected with personal injuty claims. Voter approval was needed to modify the law because the original chiropractic licensing law was enacted by referendum in 1922. A Los Angeles Times editorial urged voters to oppose Proposition 44 because "whatever its modest merits, voters should demand that the Legislature craft another proposition removing this from voters' responsibilities." Supporters, including the California District Attorneys Association, said the measure would deter insurance fraud.

PROPOSITION 44: INSURANCE FRAUD

March 5, 2002

Background

The Chiropractic Act is a law that was adopted by the voters. Changes to the act require voter approval. Under the act, the Board of Chiropractic Examiners licenses and regulates chiropractors who practice in California. The board may impose discipline including license revocation for various acts of misconduct. The act makes it a misdemeanor for a person to violate its provisions. Conviction of a violation is subject to a fine or imprisonment in county jail, or both a fine and imprisonment.

Currently, there are about 15,000 licensed chiropractors in the state.

Proposal

This measure requires the Board of Chiropractic Examiners to revoke for ten years the license of a chiropractor who is convicted for a second time, or is convicted of multiple counts in a single case, of various specified offenses, including insurance fraud. After the ten-year period, the chiropractor may apply to the board to reinstate his or her license. Currently, the board has discretion over which punishment to assess for the offenses covered by this measure. This punishment may or may not result in license revocation.

The measure further requires the board to investigate any licensed chiropractor who has been criminally charged with committing insurance fraud, if the district attorney does not object to the investigation. The measure also includes as "unprofessional conduct" the hiring of "runners" or other persons by chiropractors to procure patients, except as this practice is allowed by law.

This measure's provisions currently apply to doctors.

Fiscal Effect

The Board of Chiropractic Examiners currently investigates all cases in which a criminal charge has been filed alleging insurance fraud by a licensed chiropractor, where the district attorney does not object. As a result, any additional costs to implement this measure would be negligible.

To the extent that the license revocation and investigation provisions of this measure act as a deterrent and reduce insurance fraud committed by chiropractors, there could be savings, of an unknown amount, to the state in lower workers' compensation and Medi-Cal costs.

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This article was posted March 12, 2002.