PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In his first interview with Eyewitness News since the story broke, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said “political controversy” is the reason he’s pulling $1 million in funding for a Cranston chiropractor’s brain injury treatment program.
“Unfortunately, countless people probably won’t get the help they otherwise would have gotten because of politics,” Mattiello said Thursday night at the State House.
The chiropractor — Victor Pedro — runs an alternative treatment program he calls Cortical Integrative Therapy, or CIT, described on his website as “a revolutionary treatment methodology” for brain injuries and disorders.
His 16-year-old practice, incorporated as Rhode Island Integrated Medicine Inc., says it offers “therapeutic rehabilitation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, nutritional counseling, chiropractic care, and visual, auditory, and vestibular therapies.”
Pedro’s website says CIT is “a non-covered service” under group health insurance plans, and patients are required to pay on the first day of treatment with cash or checks only.
As Target 12 first reported, state lawmakers have allocated nearly $1.9 million to Pedro’s program since 2004. Despite opposition from Gov. Gina Raimondo, Speaker Mattiello added another $1 million for the program in this year’s newly proposed budget.
“It provides a unique therapy for people who have brain injuries or trauma,” he argued. “That have conditions that no conventional therapy helps.” Pedro “has helped countless people,” he added.
The speaker defended the program to Eyewitness News Reporter Caroline Goggin during an interview Thursday. But as Target 12 has reported, not everyone is fully convinced of this treatment.
Raimondo has repeatedly tried to eliminate funding for the program from the budget, saying the state doesn’t fund procedures the federal government hasn’t approved.
Also, in 2017, in a letter refusing to provide federal Medicaid funding for the program, U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Director Seema Verma said there were “very few parameters for cost or quality control” involved.
On Thursday night, Eyewitness News asked Mattiello what made him and other House lawmakers believe they had the medical knowledge to push for this program’s funding, considering state and federal health officials rejected the therapy.
“I don’t have the medical knowledge, and we don’t,” Mattiello said. “However, sometimes it takes time, and you have to build up enough cases in order to have the proper samples so that therapy is accepted. We were giving the therapy that opportunity, and in the meantime, getting positive results.”
When asked about his relationship with Pedro, Mattiello said it has always been professional. He said he has known the chiropractor for about 25 years, saying Pedro’s practice is up the street from his own law office.
“There is no relationship with Dr. Pedro, other than I believe in the service he is providing,” Mattiello said.