Ontario's seniors and poor unable to access needed care

    TORONTO, Sept. 21 /CNW/ - Seniors, the working poor and those receiving
social assistance suffer the highest incidence of musculoskeletal problems,
including back pain. Yet, as an unintended consequence of the delisting of
chiropractic in 2004, these vulnerable populations are least able to access
chiropractic care, according to a recent report by the DeGroote School of
Business's Health Leadership Institute.
    Commissioned by the Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA), the report,
titled Providing Chiropractic Services to Those Most Vulnerable, cites a
significant shift in the demographics of patients visiting Ontario's
chiropractors - toward those with private insurance, WSIB or automobile
insurance claims, and away from seniors, low income earners and social
assistance recipients.
    The report outlines five different funding options that would
substantially improve access to chiropractic among these segments of the
    "These groups are at a major disadvantage in getting the care they need,"
says OCA President Dr. Bryan Wolfe.
    "Musculoskeletal problems, such as repetitive strain injuries, back and
neck pain, are often debilitating, and they present a major challenge for the
health care system. Without funding support, vulnerable populations have no
choice but to seek care from health providers who fall within the scope of
OHIP. That means an increase in the use of emergency rooms and family
physicians, who are already overburdened and in short supply."
    Musculoskeletal (MSK) pain is one of the leading causes of chronic health
problems among people over 65. In fact, according to a study by the Public
Health Agency of Canada, back pain and migraines were two of the most common
reasons for visiting a physician. Interestingly, the top three reasons that
patients visit the chiropractor are back pain, neck pain and headache.
    With the upcoming provincial election, funding for chiropractic has
become a subject for debate, and the OCA is very encouraged by NDP Leader
Howard Hampton's recent pledge to commit $100 million a year for chiropractic,
physiotherapy and optometry.
    "The OCA is committed to working closely with the provincial government,
no matter what the outcome of the upcoming election, to find a viable and
cost-effective solution," says Dr. Wolfe. "We have already been engaged in
discussions with all three parties regarding the funding options outlined in
the report."

    The funding models outlined in the report include:

    -  fee-for-service - in which the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care
       funds a fixed amount for each patient visit, with the patient paying a

    -  mixed population - in which fee-for-service model for those patients
       not enrolled in some form of reformed primary care practice, and the
       capitation model for those who are;

    The Ontario Chiropractic Association is a voluntary professional
organization that represents more than 2,700 (80 %) of Ontario's
Chiropractors. www.chiropractic.on.ca.

For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Jennifer Paige, Manager,
Communications and Marketing, The Ontario Chiropractic Association, (905)
629-8211, ext. 25, 1-877-327-2273, jpaige@chiropractic.on.ca.

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Ontario Chiropractic Association

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