July 2, 2014 — The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), in a letter to U.S. House and Senate conferees regarding legislation addressing recent health care issues uncovered at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), urges lawmakers to further integrate the essential services provided by doctors of chiropractic (DCs) in the VA healthcare system.
The letter, addressed to Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Ranking Member Mike Michaud (D-Maine) of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-N.C.) of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, reminds legislators that chiropractic physicians deliver conservative care for neuromusculoskeletal conditions necessary for America’s veterans.
ACA believes improved access to chiropractic services for the veteran population will result in decreasing its overuse and abuse of prescription pain medications. This can be accomplished by transitioning to a conservative-care-first model, which focuses on using conservative treatments, providing care in out-patient settings and incorporating health promotion and wellness counseling. Veterans should be afforded the opportunity to choose and have access to services provided by chiropractic physicians prior to prescription medication and surgical procedures.
The need for change in the VA is urgent. Recent statistics from a Center for Investigative Reporting special report found that prescriptions in the VA for four highly addictive painkillers have surged by 270 percent since the war in Afghanistan began, far outpacing the increase in patients. Additional VA research shows that the fatal overdose rate among veteran patients is nearly double the national average.
“VA currently provides access to a DC at more than 45 major treatment facilities within the U.S. However, the overwhelming majority of eligible veterans continue to be denied access to chiropractic services because VA has failed to take any significant action to provide access at around 100 other VA facilities,” said ACA President Anthony Hamm, DC. “Action is needed to ensure that all the brave men and women who have put their lives on the line for our country have access to as much health care as they need when they get back home, regardless of the provider they wish to see.”
ACA’s letter urges conferees to integrate language fromÂ pending legislation in the U.S. House and Senate into the coming House-Senate conference report, as further integration of chiropractic physicians within VA can significantly reduce costs without compromising excellent clinical outcomes or high patient satisfaction.