About seven years ago, we interviewed Lewis J. Bazakos, DC, about his role as chairman of the Chiropractic Summit.
At that time, we gave readers a look at how the Summit works to achieve unity and consensus among the various constituencies within the profession. As of November 10, 2016, Bazakos has retired from his position and we thought it would be a good idea to catch up and collect his parting thoughts on what amounts to nearly a decade of service to the organization.
With respect to the central mission of the Summit, Bazakos points to the group’s successes to date. “First and foremost, the Summit is a partnership of the leadership of the profession, representing all aspects of education, research, key vendors, national associations, colleges, and regulatory bodies—all of whom have come together to form this historic partnership.”
The big picture
He notes that the Summit has achieved its purpose of keeping the profession working and pulling together. “Instead of as in years past, when people were pursuing vastly different agendas, the Summit has been pooling resources to accomplish whatever task was at hand. It created unity in the profession—something for which rank and file docs have clamored.”
In addition, at the Summit website at chirosummit.org, you can now find a wealth of articles on proper documentation, and business-tip videos, too. “Post- payment audits have caused some doctors no small measure of pain,” Bazakos says. “The documentation committee put together some great articles about Medicare and they addressed doctors’ fears about dealing with Medicare and what to do if you get a letter in the mail. The answer to many Medicare problems are there and we worked on that from day one.”
As Bazakos notes, when you’re dealing with the leaders of their own respective organizations, businesses, and colleges, you’re dealing with people who are successful in their own right, have others answering to them, and who are in a unique position of power. Bringing them into a room and asking them to work together can be a challenge, but Bazakos felt up to the task: “You have to check your ego at the door. There isn’t any room for personal agendas. That has been the main tenet of the Summit.”
As he recalls, there were some personalities who tried to dominate discussion, but Bazakos worked to keep proceed- ings diplomatic and democratic, giving everyone a voice and room to exchange thoughts. “Some 95 percent of the time we reached unanimous consent. Communication was key and it’s how we worked our way through things. We really truly have more in common than we have differences,” he says.
Major milestones met
Looking back on his nine-and-a-half-year term, Bazakos points to the Summit’s having played a key role in national healthcare reform by getting nondiscrimination language in the Affordable Care Act. They worked with the lobbying teams from the ACA, ACC, ICA and mobilized a grassroots effort to accomplish this victory for chiropractic. Afterword, the Association of Chiropractic Attorneys said it was one of the most important pieces of legislation ever passed for the profession.
The Summit has weighed in on position statements to the effect that chiropractic is a drugless healing art, it’s currently working on the opioid epidemic, and it’s preparing to address the significant problem of the stroke issue and misinformation to the public. “We’re offering the public a safe approach to dealing with acute pain, and want them to turn to us for answers,” Bazakos says.
Furthermore, the Summit is working on DoD issues, VA access expansion, and establishing relationships with key members of Congress to assist with pro- chiropractic legislation.
The mission ahead
On November 10, 2016, Bazakos turned the reins of Summit leadership over to his successor, Norman Ouzts, DC: “He’s been involved with the licensing board, the national board, and he’s attended our smaller roundtable meetings.”
In his new role, Ouzts will be coordinating representatives from the FCLB, NBCE, ACA, ICA, CCE,
COCSA, and the ACC, among others. “In the full meetings we have some 40 members in attendance,” Bazakos notes. “My successor will have to deal with all these individual leaders and their personalities, and navigate the landscape and understand why they are taking the positions that they take and navigate the ship through those waters so that we all arrive at the same place as one.”