October 2009 edition of John Weeks’ Integrator Roundup, a review of the latest integrative healthcare policy and research topics, media, clinics and personel news. 


Academic Medicine and Education




Economics of CAM





Image Andrew Weil, MD issues 7-point Health Care Call to Action – community responds

Author and integrative medical education pioneer Andrew Weil, MD, founder of the influential Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, has issued 7 recommendations which he believes will drive the healthcare debate toward true healthcare reform. He opens with a statement of rights to “good health care that is effective, accessible, and affordable, that serves you from infancy through old age, that allows you to go to practitioners and facilities of your choosing, and that offers a broad range of therapeutic options.” He then blasts the current expensive system and the failure of the current debate to focus on “the content of health care” before offering “some changes we can demand immediately.” These are:

  1. Ban direct-to-consumer marketing and advertising by big pharma.
  2. Create a National Institute of Health and Healing at the NIH and fund it generously.
  3. Create an Office of Health Promotion within the U.S. Department of  Health and Human Services and fund it appropriately.
  4. Teach health promotion and integrative medicine at medical schools and residency programs.
  5. Require insurers to cover health promotion and integrative care.
  6. Establish an Office of Health Education within the U.S. Department of Education.
  7. Learn how to take care of yourself!

A discussion forum on Weil’s points showed broad alignment, with the one caveat, expressed by naturopathic physicians, that Weil does not appear to be actively promoting the potential contributions to improved health from distinctly-licensed practitioners of natural health care. Weil’s call was made as part of the promotional effort for his new book Why Our Health Matters: A Vision of Medicine That Can Transform Our Future.

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IOM report from Summit on Integrative Medicine to be released online November 4, 2009

The long-awaited report from the Institute of Medicine on the influential February 25-27, 2009 National Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public is scheduled for release on November 4, 2009. The date coincides with an expensive, black-tie shindig in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Bravewell Collaborative, which backed the Summit with a $445,000 grant. According to a spokesperson working on the event, the report is to be available online on that date. The official IOM summary of the Summit report will be presented that evening by IOM president Harvey Fineberg, MD. (For more on changes in the powerful Bravewell, see Philanthropy, this issue.)
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Image Letter urging non-discrimination against provider types, signed by 47 members of Congress, sent to Speaker Pelosi

On September 14, 2009, a letter signed by 47 members of Congress was sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) which urged that any legislation passed include “a provider non-discrimination provision at the federal level, and make it applicable to all plans.” The letter does not mention any particular health care disciplines. Taking the lead on the letter drafting were Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) and Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), according to a notice from the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), which supported the initiative. The focus, generally, is on “the importance of patients being able to choose the type of health care provider that will treat them as well as the need to prevent discrimination against entire classes of health care providers by insurance plans. Another focus is on maintaining any hard-won rights and inclusion professions have gained at the state level. The ACA e-note to its members clarified that “while ACA remains focused on many chiropractic-specific legislative initiatives, there are certainly some areas where the profession shares concerns with a larger body of health care providers.”

Comment: Since winning its protracted anti-trust lawsuit against the American Medical Association in the late 1980s, the chiropractic profession has blazed multiple paths that have created opportunities for other licensed complementary healthcare disciplines. This is another. Inclusion of a non-discrimination concept in any health reform legislation would be a huge win for many professions – including the other licensed “CAM” fields.

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Academic Medicine and Education

Article in Academic Medicine blasts medical school integrative medicine programs, U Minnesota responds

The September 9, 2009 issue of Academic Medicine, the publication of the American Assiociation of Medical Colleges, includes an article by long-time anti-CAM activist Donald Marcus, MD entitled “An Evaluation of the Evidence in “Evidence-Based” Integrative Medicine Programs“. Marcus et al reviewed the curricula at the 14 medical and nursing schools which received R 25 education grants from NIH NCCAM and concluded that “these curricula, which are used all over the country, fail to meet the generally accepted standards of evidence-based medicine.” Further: “By tolerating this situation, health professions schools are not meeting their educational and ethical obligations to learners, patients, or society. Because integrative medicine programs have failed to uphold educational standards, medical and nursing schools need to assume responsibility for their oversight.” Karen Lawson, MD and Mary Jo Kreitzer, PhD, RN, FAAN, two leaders of the program at the University of Minnesota, one of those challenged in the Marcus article, wrote a response to Academic Medicine which they shared with the Integrator. They argue that “unfortunately, [Marcus et al] failed to live up to their own standard of ‘evidence based’ by making multiple assumptions about the content and format of teaching integrative medicine in medical schools.” Lawson and Kreitzer argue that the conclusions of Marcus, relative to the University of Minnesota program, are “erroneous and inflammatory.”

Comment:  Credit Lawson and Kreitzer for their quick, corrective response. Here is hoping Academic Medicine publishes it. The journal has been very response in the past, including publishing favorably on the R 25 programs. An October 2007 issue included nearly 50 pages written by investigators for these programs.

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