January 2012 Integrator Round-up on Policy:  federal integrative care strategy under the Affordable Care Act; national pain initiative (PAAINS) to promote recommendations of the IOM’s Blueprint; Breakthroughs for integrative medicine; National Prevention and Public Health Fund

Report from IHPC Stakeholder Conference lays out priorities for federal integrative care strategy under the Affordable Care Act 

The long-awaited report of an integrative health policy summit has been published by the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC). The outcomes from the 3-day gathering of a multidisciplinary group of 60 leaders is entitled The Affordable Care Act and Beyond: A Stakeholder Conference on Integrated Healthcare Reform. The 54-page report includes recommendations from each of 6 work groups: Access and Non-Discrimination; Integration in Practice; Comparative Effectiveness Research and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute; The Healthcare Workforce; Prevention and Wellness; and Current Procedural Technology (CPT) Codes. Most were pegged to portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that directly include complementary medicine and integrative health. The recommendations are summarized on pages 10-12. An additional value of the document are the appendices, a series of IHPC statements on key aspects of the ACA. Joining IHPC in convening the gathering were The Institute for Integrative Health and Palmer College. Hylands and Bastyr University provided additional financial sponsorship.

Comment: Nearly 15 years ago US Senator Tom Harkin told a group of individuals who would later become founders of IHPC that members of Congress would value collaborative efforts from the integrative health community on policy. This document is the first such declaration since the 2001 National Policy Dialogue to Advance Integrated Health: Finding Common Ground. The conference that produced this document was a tremendous meeting which I attended under my Academic Consortium for Complementary Health Care (ACCAHC) hat.  The report is a blueprint for policy action. Like reports from Institute of Medicine committees and other significant national summits, this document needs organized activity to bring the recommendations to life. If you are part of any organization, business, institution or professional group that values integrative care, consider joining the other 12 entities that will help move these recommendation as IHPC’s Partners for Health. Congratulations to IHPC chair Len Wisneski, MD and his team for getting this report out.


Center for Practical Bioethics organizes national pain initiative (PAAINS) to promote recommendations of the IOM’s Blueprint 

A vision of integrative, multidisciplinary care is advanced through the Institute of Medicine’s 2011 Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming, Prevention, Care, Education and Research. Kansas City-based Center for Practical Bioethics doesn’t want this report to languish on a shelf, gathering dust. The Center, directed by Myra Christopher, a member of the IOM panel that created the Blueprint, is in the process of creating a Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy (PAAINS). The campaign site lists the 18 organizations involved in developing PAAINS. Work is presently underway to transform the initiative into a formal alliance. The 11 organizations that have joined are here. The diverse group ranges from a pharma company to the American Osteopathic Association toi diverse pain-related clinical and research organizations, to a CAM academic organization. Those interested in more information or participation are asked to contact Christopher at mchristopher@practicalbioethics.org.


Huffington Post: Top 10 for Policy and Action plus a Top 11 Breakthroughs for integrative medicine 

What is a field without an annual Top 10 list? The year the Huffington Post, the most significant popular media source to espouse an integrative medicine editorial line, published two such lists. The first was the Top 10 for Integrative Medicine Policy and Action. This is a list traditionally posted at the Integrator Blog News & Reports. (Links to Top 10 lists for Policy and Top 10 People going back to 2006 are here.) This Top 10 focuses on policy and payment-related developments that made 2011 a very good year for integrative medicine. The Huffington Post editorial team separately reviewed stories from their blog and produced 11 Integrative Medicine Breakthroughs for 2011. The editorial team write that “it’s been a year of big breakthroughs for integrative medicine.” They then commence a slideshow of the breakthroughs. The first: “Yoga approved for back pain.”

Comment: The Huffington Post has more online readers than the New York Times. A personal resolution for 2012 is to take the conversation about the contributions of integrative health to this large audience. Go, take a look, check out the comments, comment, become a fan.


Grassroots efforts helps maintain funding for National Prevention and Public Health Fund 

On December 15, 2011, the Integrator Blog News & Reports joined the American Public Health Association and various national associations in a “National Day of Action to Protect the Prevention Fund.” The request came from Janet Kahn, PhD, LMT, a recent presidential appointee to the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, Integrative and Public Health of the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council. Kahn is also immediate past director and senior policy adviser to the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium. The Council and its Advisory Group were created via the Affordable Care Act. The Council’s make-up represents the first US policy-level recognition that health is a whole system and multi-agency concern. Involved in the Council are agencies related to agriculture, transportation, education, energy and more, together with Health and Human Services.” The Advisory Group includes Kahn and 3 other individuals from the integrative practice community. The Council and make-up of the Advisory Group are each breakthroughs, and reason alone to preserve this Fund.

The grassroots effort was effective. According to a December 23, 2011 note from Michael Traub, ND, IHPC policy committee chair, legislation was passed that fully funded the Prevention and Public Health Fund at $1-billion. Traub’s note added: “It is our understanding that the Community Transformation Grant program will be funded at $280 million, a $135 million increase over FY 2011.  A full funding chart should be available early this week.” A copy of the bill is here and joint statement of the Congressional managers of the campaign to pass the legislation is here

Comment: Thanks to each of you who participated in the grassroots effort. The whole system vision of health and its determinants that define the Council represent a tremendous step that we must not only support but assist Kahn and Dean Ornish, MD and their other integrative colleagues on the Advisory Group to help shape. 


Certified Professional Midwives pick up Barney Frank as co-sponsor on access bill 

The Midwives and Mothers in Action (MAMA) campaign announced that Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA-4th) is the latest member of Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 1054, the Access to Certified Professional Midwives Act of 2011. The act would allow coverage of homebirth by Certified Professional Midwives under Medicaid programs. The MAMA Campaign was successful in getting coverage of CPMs in birth centers into the Affordable Care Act. Disclosure: I am a donor to the campaign and, with my spouse and two children, a twice-grateful client of homebirth midwifery services.