A monthly round-up of the latest news, events and topics in integrative healthcare from John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports.

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

US Senator Saunders introduces bill to expand complementary and alternative medicine services in the military

The purposed of U.S. Senate Bill 852 is “to improve health care furnished by the Department of Veterans Affairs by increasing access to complementary and alternative medicine and other approaches to wellness and preventive care, and for other purposes.” It was introduced into the Senate on April 25, 2013 by US Senator Bernie Saunders (I-VT) as the Veteran’s Health Promotion Act of 2013. The approach is through “centers of innovation” with a scope that includes research, education and development of models of delivery. The strategy begins with pilot programs at 15 centers. Focal areas include pain conditions, mental health and obesity. The Veteran’s Health Administration office of Tracy Gaudet, MD is anticipated to be charged with fulfillment. “Complementary medicine services” is not defined. The bill also includes a study of barriers to inclusion of these services. The fiscal note is merely “such sums as may be necessary.” Janet Kahn, PhD, a policy adviser to the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium and the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, says that she is “delighted to see this as its really important to the care of veterans.”

Comment: Introduced legislation can be serious or it can be what is called “throwing a bone” to a constituency. Hard to say what chances this one has. Senator Saunders has been a strong, substantial proponent of integration, since 1996 at least, when he essentially forced all of his state’s healthcare stakeholders to consider this topic through a statewide conference he convened. Yet introducing under one’s own name alone, like this, is often a sign of category B. Queries yielded one view that this will indeed “have legs.” At the very least, it is useful to see this strategy articulated. (Thanks to Bob Twillman for the heads up.)


Harkin battles the Obama administration to protect prevention and public health funds

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the prime backer of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, blasted the Obama administration, in the person of Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, for “raiding” the fund. Harkin claims he had an “iron-clad agreement” from Obama that taking from the fund would stop. Yet the continued use of dollars earmarked for prevention to pump up financial support for the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges continues. Republicans support the administration’s dismissal of the fund’s value. Said Joe Pitts (R-PA): “The administration is using the ‘Prevention’ fund as a mass marketing and financing machine for ObamaCare.” An article in The Hill states that Harkin, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, “is a fierce advocate of preventive medicine – the idea that healthcare should seek to prevent illness rather than merely treat it.” Harkin’s statement is here.


Safe Chemicals Act of 2013 introduced by Lautenberg, Gillibrand with 27 co-sponsors: first overhaul

A message from the “Wellness Warrior,” the 90-year-old Deborah Szeleky, shares that U.S. Senators Charles Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) have introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013 (S 696). 
According to Szeleky, the legislation “will ensure Americans are protected from dangerous toxic chemicals in everyday consumer products and reform the desperately outdated Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976.”
 She explains that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “has been unable to do more due to provisions in the Toxic Substance Control Act that prevent them from requiring testing unless evidence has already shown the chemical in question poses a risk.” She calls on individuals to thank the sponsors here. The Huffington Post has dubbed Szeleky the “Godmother of the wellness movement.”

: All of the sponsors of the legislation are Democrats. These include US Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Barbara Mikulsky (D-MD) and other stalwart supporters of integrative health and medicine. One might hope that limiting the toxification of our earth and our bodies would be a non-partisan issue. It’s unlikely this legislation will move very far with a Republican controlled House. Thanks to Szeleky for her fierce promotion of re-opening this. Chemicals are a good place to move toward a guilty until proven innocent approach. Check Szekely on her Wellness Warrior site.


European Union group CAMbrella publishes final report on legal staus and regulation of CAM in Europe

The final report from the CAMbrella group, which describes itself as a “communication group for CAM in Europe, is a 3014 page volume entitled Legal Status and Regulation of CAM in Europe. The primary author is Vinjar Fonnebo, MD. The PDF is available by scrolling to the bottom of this site, in Italian. The goal of CAMbrella was to set a workplan for CAM research. The report includes country by country breakdowns for numerous modalities and disciplines relative to the status and type of recognition. One sample: acupouncture is only regulated as a profession in two countries but as a practice in 24. Traditional Chinese Medicine is not regulated in any country as a profession but 10 have regulations for the practice. This is the third and final report from the group.

Comment: This is a basic resource for anyone interested in the evolution of these fields in Europe.Thanks to Italian CAMbrella member, co-author, and Integrator adviser Paolo Roberti di Sarsina, MD for his link to the report.


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