Under the Dome

NC House passes chiropractor bill that led to former Speaker Jim Black’s conviction

Former House Speaker Jim Black after being sentenced to prison in 2007. Black was found guilty for accepting $29,000 from chiropractors while pushing legislation that favored them. The same legislation was passed in the N.C. House this week.
Former House Speaker Jim Black after being sentenced to prison in 2007. Black was found guilty for accepting $29,000 from chiropractors while pushing legislation that favored them. The same legislation was passed in the N.C. House this week. SHAWN ROCCO

A bill involving chiropractors that passed in the N.C. House last week amid a flurry of legislative action has a long history in the legislature.

House Bill 528 would require that co-pays for visits to a chiropractor be the same amount as a co-pay for a primary care doctor. Many insurance plans classify chiropractors as specialists, causing patients to pay higher co-pays.

The bill passed 68-43 shortly before midnight on Wednesday – part of about 200 bills that passed in the House or Senate last week.

But the same law has been passed before.

Former House Speaker Jim Black used his power to quietly insert the provision into the 2005 state budget. Black was later convicted and sent to prison for taking $29,000 in cash bribes from chiropractors in restaurant bathrooms.

The law was repealed in 2007, with Democratic Rep. Rick Glazier calling it “a special provision bought and paid for by bribery.”

Glazier, however, was among a bipartisan group that supported the provision this week in the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Justin Burr of Albemarle.

“This will give the patients choice,” Burr said. “I have a list of study after study that shows savings for the patients and a reduction of overall costs and need for hospital admissions.”

But Rep. Gary Pendleton – a Raleigh Republican who voted against the bill – referenced the legislation’s colorful history.

“This body did this when Jim Black was the speaker,” Pendleton said. “It was negotiated outside of Wake County, you may remember.”

Black’s bathroom money exchanges took place in restaurants in and near the Charlotte area.

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