MADISON, Wis. — Chiropractors could perform sports physicals under a Republican bill a legislative committee approved Tuesday despite Democrats’ fears that chiropractors lack medical doctors’ training and expertise.

The bill from Rep. Chuck Wichgers of Muskego would require schools, technical colleges and University of Wisconsin System two-year schools that require pre-participation physicals to accept exams performed by chiropractors. The chiropractors would have to obtain certificates from the state chiropractic examining board to perform such exams. The board would be required to set up certification standards.

The bill also would force the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, which governs high school sports in the state, to accept chiropractors’ exams.

An array of groups has registered in opposition, including the WIAA, the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Medical Society. The only group registered in support is the Wisconsin Chiropractic Association.

Wichgers told the Assembly Health Committee during a public hearing on the bill in April that a number of his family members have been or are chiropractors in the Milwaukee area and he wants to give chiropractors more tools.

Democrats on the committee warned during an executive session on the bill Tuesday that the proposal enlarges chiropractors’ scope of care even though they lack the expertise to identify maladies that aren’t related to muscles and bones.

“The list of people against this is two-and-a-half pages long,” Rep. Debra Kolste of Janesville said. “I just have grave concerns that we’re changing the scope of practice for one particular group.”

Republican Rep. Dave Murphy of Greenville countered that the state suffers from a lack of doctors and the bill would give families more options to complete their children’s physicals. Wichgers defended the chiropractic profession, saying it’s a viable science.

In the end the committee voted 7-3 along party lines to approve the bill. The vote clears the way for the full Assembly to take up the bill.

WIAA Executive Director Dave Anderson said the organization’s medical advisory committee has concluded that chiropractors’ training is equivalent to an MD. A pre-participation exam by a doctor also fits into a larger medical history a student likely has with that physician, he said.

He hinted that bill is really about drumming up more business for chiropractors, saying the WIAA is the only entity involved in the issue that doesn’t have a financial stake in passing the measure.

“This (bill) is a mandate forcing a bad policy on the WIAA, a private organization,” Anderson said.


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