Integrative Health Policy Consortium issues letter to President Joe Biden

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The Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC), a nonprofit advocacy organization representing integrative healthcare professionals in the United States, issued a letter to then President-Elect Joseph Biden, calling on the new administration to take action in four key areas, including expansion of integrative healthcare services, coverage, and funding. A copy of the letter was obtained by Integrative Practitioner staff.

The IHPC works closely with the Bipartisan Congressional Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus on Capitol Hill, co-chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN). The Caucus provides a non-partisan educational forum for legislators to receive up-to-date information related to best practices and new research from experts in the field, as well as an opportunity for Congressional Members to discuss legislative and regulatory opportunities to expand access to integrative health care and promote wellness strategies.

In the letter, the IHPC listed its priorities, which focused on four areas: leadership, implementation of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Pain Management Best Practices Interagency Task Force Report recommendations, expansion of integrative healthcare services and coverage, and funding related agencies.

Issued by Tracy Bowen, executive director of the IHPC, and Margaret Erickson, PhD, RN, CNS, APRN, APHN-BD, co-chair of the IHPC and chief executive officer of the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation, the letter called for President Biden’s administration to appoint individuals, especially within the HHS, who are experts in the programs and policies that they will be responsible for managing, who understand and appreciate the mission of each HHS agency, and are committed to strengthening these agencies. The organization also said it supports the appointment of senior officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs who will continue and enhance the Department’s provision of integrative healthcare services to veterans, and their whole health program commitment retained and funded.

The IHPC also called on the Biden administration to implement the HHS Pain Management Best Practices Interagency Task Force Report, issued in May 2019.  The report included detailed recommendations to improve pain treatment, including individualized, multi-modal pain treatment, as well as coverage of non-pharmacological treatments. including complementary and integrative health practices such as massage therapy, restorative therapies, innovative medical devices, and behavioral health approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Despite support from more than 160 national healthcare organizations, the report has not been implemented.

Additionally, the letter requests expansion of integrative healthcare services and coverage. Currently, several innovative federally funded programs are delivering integrative healthcare services to some vulnerable populations, including the Whole Health System of Care at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), programs managed by Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA). The IHPC calls for support of these programs, as well as expanding Medicare and Medicaid coverage of services provided by all state-licensed, certified pursuant-to-state-law, or national certified health providers and broadening eligibility for the HRSA’s National Health Service Corps.

Lastly, the IHPC expressed its support for investments in several federal agencies and programs, including Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the HRSA, National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in earlier today.