March 26, 2010 — The healthcare reform bill signed into law March 23 by President Obama, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, includes several provisions that address complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and one focused on certain dietary supplements.
These details, previously identified by American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) President Michael McGuffin in a Jan. 13, 2010 open letter, primarily serve to better incorporate alternative practitioners into the U.S. healthcare system.
Among the provisions included in the final law, section 4206 would have a direct effect on those dietary supplements for which there are FDA-approved health claims by setting up a pilot program for “wellness plans,” which can now include those few supplements with “health claims approved by the Secretary.” Currently approved health claims include, for example, claims for calcium and osteoporosis; soluble fiber and coronary heart disease; and folic acid and neural tube birth defects. The full list can be found on the Food and Drug Association (FDA) Web site.
Another notable provision in the healthcare reform bill is section 2706, which prohibits “discrimination” against any healthcare provider licensed in a state; more specifically:
Other sections of the new law will also promote more inclusion for CAM practitioners.
These include section 5101, that establishes a National Healthcare Workforce Commission to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and section 3502, which creates “community health teams,” defined to include, among others, “licensed complementary and alternative medicine practitioners.”
Source: American Herbal Products Association, www.ahpa.org