Chiropractors and physical therapists would get a boost from a bill that cleared a House committee Thursday.
The bill would require health insurance companies covering some 2 million people in the state to offer a lower co-pay for chiropractors and physical and occupational therapists.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Cullie Tarleton, started out as a do-over for a requirement that patients could see chiropractors and pay the same co-payment they are charged for seeing a family doctor.
That benefit was inserted into the budget by former House Speaker Jim Black four years ago. It helped land him in prison when three chiropractors admitted to giving him cash payments while pushing their legislative agenda. It was later rescinded.
Tarleton said the benefit was rescinded because of the circumstances surrounding it, not because it wasn't good policy.
"This is a really a patient's bill, plain and simple," said Tarleton, a Blowing Rock Democrat.
The bill was amended Thursday to include occupation and physical therapists, who compete economically with chiropractors for some patients. And the bill was also amended to match the co-pay structure in the State Health Plan, which allowed a middle tier of co-pays for chiropractors and physical therapists.
In either form, the bill would increase insurance costs for businesses and the insured, said Rep. Hugh Holliman, a Lexington Democrat and the House majority leader.
"You're passing that cost along to everybody in the state," Holliman said.
The bill has two more committees to clear before the full House could consider it.