It’s no secret that some in the medical profession have long sought to curtail chiropractic’s ever-increasing prominence and recognition as an important branch of healthcare.
While great strides have been made in recent years, due to many in the medical profession recognizing the value of chiropractic integration and collaboration with mainstream healthcare, in the state of Texas those representing the state medical association have virtually sought to eliminate the profession, viewing chiropractic as unwelcome competition for healthcare dollars.
Indeed, this year has seen the most aggressive assault on the chiropractic profession in the history of Texas, with a flurry of proposals put forward that could have gutted much of the autonomy, scope of practice, and rights of chiropractors across the state.
Each of the following was under attack:
- The right to diagnose
- The right to evaluate, diagnose, and treat neurological conditions
- The right to join in business agreements with medical doctors, osteopaths, and podiatrists
- The preservation of an autonomous state board of chiropractic examiners
Without exception, these efforts failed. In the just concluded Texas 85th legislative session, bids to cripple the chiropractic profession could not muster support from even a single legislator once the bills came out of committee. Instead, Governor Greg Abbott’s signature on several bills preserving the rights of chiropractors brought this battle to a conclusion for the foreseeable future.
The stakes could scarcely have been higher. Had any of the legislation attacking chiropractic passed, it would have been locked in for at least two years since the Texas legislature only meets every other year. After the passage of that much time, there are no guarantees such misguided regulations would be able to be overturned.
What’s more, like all Texas state agencies, the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners (TBCE) comes up for review by the Sunset Commission every twelve years. This year a proposal was made to eliminate the TCBE and put chiropractic under the authority of the same board that oversees other medical fields; this would have severely curtailed the rights and autonomy of chiropractors and would have led to the profession being severely constrained. Thankfully this effort was defeated, and the next Sunset Commission review of the TBCE won’t be until 2029. Losing this battle would have left the profession hamstrung for a generation.
In turning back the medical lobby’s assault on chiropractic, Texas state legislators gave overwhelming support to the bills preserving and protecting the rights of our profession. As bills came out of committee, it was obvious to all just how one-sided and discriminatory the medical opposition had been.
The collaboration of a wide range of organizations and individuals from across the state made these victories possible. The Texas Chiropractic Association, Parker University, Texas Chiropractic College, and many other organizations and individuals joined forces to combat this threat to the practice of chiropractic in Texas. We began mobilizing for this battle on January 20, 2017, at a summit hosted by Parker University. Forming a strategic “war council” with leaders from throughout the profession, plans were made to increase awareness, raise funds, and defeat our adversaries.
It is never possible to thank everyone involved in such a large, collaborative undertaking. Many individuals worked hard and donated generously. I would like to express my gratitude to all who helped make our victory in Texas happen. This really is your victory and a victory for your patients.
There are, however, a few individuals whom I would like to personally recognize: the Parker Board of Trustees; Tyce Hergert, President of the TCA; Jeff S. Jenkins, the Executive Director of the TCA; and our “young guns” Joshua Massingill and Kaden Norton, both lobbyists for the TCA. Thank you all for your leadership and hard work.
There is one last champion who merits special mention. He stepped forward to support our cause because it was the right thing to do: Texas Senator Van Taylor. Senator Taylor authored Senate Bill 304, the bill which ensures that Texas chiropractors will be regulated by their own autonomous board of examiners (versus being lumped together with multiple healthcare professions) and clarifies our right to diagnose. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this contribution.
But the battle is not over yet. While chiropractors’ right to diagnose is preserved and clarified in the law, there is still a civil suit underway challenging this right, filed against the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners by the Texas Medical Association. Specifically, their suit challenges the right of chiropractors to evaluate and treat neurological conditions (including subluxations). So the battlefield moves from the statehouse to the courtroom. I encourage you to support the ongoing court battle by donating to the Chiropractic Development Initiative (CDI) at www.chirotexas.org/CDI.
Once the 85th legislative session ended, the battle for preserving chiropractic in the 86th session began. We will meet that challenge just as energetically as we faced the test this year. Our success in 2017 will be the springboard for our efforts to protect and defend the practice of chiropractic for the benefit of everyone in Texas. I have no doubt but that we will prevail.
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”