by John Weeks, Publisher Editor of The Integrator Blog News & ReportsAAAOM declares ambitious plan for 5 pieces of federal legislationThe American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has declared a 5 bill agenda for its work with the U.S. Congress.

by John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports

AAAOM declares ambitious plan for 5 pieces of federal legislation

The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has declared a 5-bill agenda for its work with the U.S. Congress. The priorities, as laid out in this interview in Acupuncture Today, target: “1) Defense Health, our nation’s program serving active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, retirees, their families, survivors and certain former spouses worldwide. 2) Veterans Administration, America’s largest integrated health care system with over 1,700 sites of care, serving 8.3 million Veterans each year. 3) Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease. 4) Federal Health Employees Benefits which provides healthcare to federal employees, retirees and their survivors who enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country. 5) Public Health Service Corps, a team of more than 6,500 highly qualified, public health professionals. The Commissioned Corps officers work for Federal agencies, such as the Indian Health Service and
Bureau of Prisons, on the forefront of public health treating individuals that need it most. The Corps’ officers are dedicated to public health promotion, disease prevention, and the advancement of public health science.” In a significant effort to engage the whole profession in the agenda, the AAAOM has asked for input on the DRAFT bills, which are posted here. The AAAOM site indicates that thus far $20,500 has been raised to support what they see as a $3.14-million strategic plan.

Comment: One sort of Congressional strategy for an under-resourced profession is to choose a relatively undemanding goal that might give you a win but may not add up to much except some PR. The naturopathic doctors did this with SR221 and “Naturopathic Medicine Week.” (See Policy, this issue.) It follows Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: Choose winnable goals. Another strategy is to announce the big audacious
goal in hopes that it will magnetize. That appears to be the AAAOM strategy. Credit the AAAOM for its big tent process.  As the comment field in the Acupuncture Today interview shows, integration, inclusion and insurance coverage are hotly debated by members of this profession as they are by all others. At present, this news is under Professions. Here’s hoping there will soon be positive reports of sponsorship and engagement under Policy.

American Chiropractic Association House of Delegates focuses on guidelines, evidence

In a report on the September 27-29, 2013 meeting of the House of Delegates of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), the ACA highlighted one key action: “Best Practices and Clinical Guidelines: With more of health care payers transitioning to models supporting evidence-based health care practices, delegates approved a resolution to develop an ACA work group to review current and future best practice and guideline documents for potential adoption. The resolution points out that management of many commonly encountered disorders by chiropractic physicians is under scrutiny by third-party payers, and notes that ‘evidence-informed practice incorporates evidence-based research, established clinical guidelines, standard and accepted diagnostic algorithms and, diagnostic procedures and patient preference used in conjunction with the clinician’s clinical skills.'” In a lead-in to the report, ACA president Keith Overland, DC, reinforced this view: “We have an opportunity facing us like never before in history. Our entire U.S. health care system is  transforming. The payment mechanisms and delivery system are changing. Evidence and cost-effectiveness are required. We must stop clinging to the past if we want to create the future.”

Comment: A number of recent reports on the evidence for cost-savings through doctors of chiropractic suggest that any system should start proactively creating managed access to these practitioners. The question for the chiropractors is partly whether evidence is enthroned; prejudice must also be dethroned, and the tool there may be less evidence than relationships.   

Naturopathic doctors face regulatory challenges over prescription rights in Vermont, Alaska

The story in the Rutland Herald reports that “a set of rules proposed by the Secretary of State’s Office of Professional Regulation to revise the prescribing authority of naturopathic physicians has been rejected, at least temporarily, by a legislative panel.” The legislature had passed “a special license endorsement authorizing [naturopathic doctors] to prescribe, dispense, and administer prescription medicines,” eliminating a prior formulary. However, within a week, the panel reversed itself and backed the law: In an about-face, lawmakers expand prescription authority for naturopaths.

The same September 27, 2013 daily e-news of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) shared an article in the Juneau Empire that reports concerns of that state’s naturopathic doctors that new rules in the state will take away their rights to prescribe inject-able vitamins. The story notes that NDs have some form of prescriptive authority in 13 of the 17 states in which they are regulated. In both Vermont and Alaska, the naturopathic doctors were opposed by the respective state’s MD medical boards.

Comment: Credit the AANP for directly informing their members of these two conflicts. The NDs can at least take solace that they shouldn’t take the opposition personally. Prescription issues are front and center for the AMA’s Scope of Practice Partnership that seeks to limit scope, and drug rights, to multiple disciplines.  

American Holistic Nurses plans cruise to explore the “evolution of integrative health and holistic nursing”

The expectation is of some 400 nurses and other practitioners gathering in Miami on November 2, 2013 for a week-long tax-deductible “Evolving Consciousness Community Cruise” through the Caribbean. Literally a boatload of integrative medicine and holistic nursing speakers, and a promise to “get silly, creative and profound, in ways that help us evolve into greater…”  – and the list includes self-awareness, self-empowerment, professional satisfaction, and more.

Comment: This is the sort of moment when any sometimes speaker thinks: Now, why didn’t I have the right content to be forced to have my way paid to attend that event …?  As a present resident in the Caribbean town of Rincon, Puerto Rico, I can attest to the possible co-habitation of actual work with the tropical pleasures.