February 21, 2011 — Nearly 500 chiropractic physicians, students, and supporters converged on the nation’s capital Feb. 14-15 as part of the American Chiropractic Association’s 2011 National Chiropractic Legislative Conference (NCLC) with the Chiropractic Summit. Those in attendance listened to speeches from government leaders, received advocacy training and urged elected officials to support pro-chiropractic measures that seek to provide patients, veterans and active-duty military personnel with greater access to the essential services provided by chiropractic physicians.
While last year’s conference focused on the first phase of health care reform, congressional debate surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), this year’s meeting concentrated on the next phase, implementation of the law.
Among the speakers this year, Iowa State Sen. Jack Hatch (D-Des Moines), a member of the White House Legislative Working Group on Health Care Reform, stressed that while the work being done on Capitol Hill to expand patient access to chiropractic care is vital to improving health care for all Americans, at this stage important work is also being done in every state capital. “This is both a challenge and an opportunity,” he said.
The meeting’s keynote speakers were Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Ret. Brig. Gen. Becky Halstead, spokesperson for the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. Harkin, who was instrumental in the inclusion of the provider non-discrimination language in PPACA emphasized chiropractic’s role in transforming the U.S. health delivery system.
“Patients want options, alternatives and noninvasive care” said Harkin. “We need to keep moving forward, away from the current sick care system to a health care system. Chiropractic physicians must be a part of the health care team.”
Halstead, a fierce advocate for chiropractic care for our nation’s veterans and active-duty military talked about prescription drug addiction in the military as a result of rampant chronic pain. She cited a recent USA Today article about another general’s struggle with addiction and back pain, cautioning, “If it’s happening in leadership, it’s rampant at lower levels.” Halstead then shared her personal struggle with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, which was finally resolved through chiropractic care. “If I had had more access to sustained chiropractic care [when I was in active duty], I would probably still be in the military,” she said.
Also on behalf of the nation’s Armed Forces, Rep. Michael Rogers (R-Ala.) urged attendees to ask their congressional representatives to support H.R. 409, the Chiropractic Health Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act, which would require the U.S. Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to allow any beneficiary covered under TRICARE to select and have direct access to a chiropractic physician. Rogers recently re-introduced this legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius addressed NCLC attendees in a video message. Sebelius said that chiropractic care has been “proven to be effective care that is also cost-effective,” and that chiropractic physicians are a “vital part” of the U.S. health delivery system. Like Harkin, Sebelius called for an end to the current “sick care” system.
ACA President Rick McMichael, DC told attendees, “[T]his is about a transformation in health care. This is about our patients and the public we serve. We have a window of opportunity—right now—and we must rise to the challenge, take action and persist. Working together as one team with one voice and one message, we can, and we will, help improve health care for America.”
The Chiropractic Summit and ACA House of Delegates Meeting
Following NCLC, Chiropractic Summit XII took place on Feb. 16. First convened in September 2007, the Chiropractic Summit represents leadership from more than 40 organizations within the profession. With the common goal of advancing chiropractic, the Summit meets regularly to collaborate, seek solutions and support collective action to address challenges facing the profession.
Each year NCLC is held in conjunction with an official business meeting of the ACA House of Delegates (HOD). ACA President Dr. Rick McMichael presided over both meetings and opened each with praise for the profession for working together to address critical issues.
Additional coverage of both NCLC and the House of Delegates meeting will be available in the April 2011 issue of ACA News, the association’s flagship publication.
A selection of photographs from the meetings can be found on the ACA Web site at www.acatoday.org/Gallery.
Source: American Chiropractic Association, www.acatoday.org