By Joseph T. Salerno
A bill unanimously recommended for passage by the Wisconsin Assembly Committee and now being considered by the Wisconsin Assembly bans payment in cash for all treatments at "pain clinics." Bill 366 is ostensibly aimed at so-called "pill mills," which dispense prescription painkillers for recreational use. However, the bill broadly defines a pain clinic as "a place that treats chronic pain, pain lasting longer than 3 months, even if the clinic does not dispense narcotics or other prescription drugs." Even spine and sports clinics that provide interventional injections for nerve pain caused by conditions like sciatica fall under the bill's purview. The bill potentially affects a large number of patients because, according to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), "Spine conditions are the fourth leading cause of physician visits."
The only exception to the prohibition on cash payments is insured patients, who are permitted to pay cash--but only for co-payments or deductibles. However, the bill perversely stipulates that only uninsured patients are permitted to use credit, a credit card, a check, or a draft--but of course not cash--to purchase pain treatments. Insured patients must depend on their insurance company to pay for their treatments. As Dr Jane Orient, executive director of AAPS points out, the bill precludes two groups from freely using there own income to purchase relief from potentially agonizing pain: 1. insured patients whose insurance companies deny their claims; and 2. uninsured persons of limited means who do not have a checking account or credit card.
The above originally appeared at Mises.org