Medical Lobby Assails Efforts to Expand Access To Chiropractic Care
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2000 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Chiropractic Association
(ACA) and other chiropractic groups testified in favor of direct access to
chiropractic and full scope of services for veterans Tuesday during a hearing
before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health.
During the hearing, congressional lawmakers sharply criticized officials from
the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for that agency's failure to
take aggressive action to ensure that veterans are provided with chiropractic
"Congress, as early as 1978, authorized VA to provide chiropractic services
to eligible veterans," Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), subcommittee chairman, said
during the hearing on chiropractic services in the VA. "But over the period
of its existence, VA has never employed its first chiropractor as a VA staff
practitioner in this professional field; has never developed, without
prodding from Congress, any meaningful policy on chiropractic care; and until
this hearing, has never had to defend its decisions to severely restrict or
deny chiropractic care to veterans.
"In this member's opinion," Stearns continued, "if a health care service is
licensed and fully legitimate in all 50 states and abroad, if millions of
Americans are willingly paying for this service every day, if health insurers
-- and even the federal Medicare program -- approve reimbursements for the
service as a routine activity of doing business ... then VA needs to better
articulate why VA seems to deny these services to eligible veterans."
Stearns' comments were echoed by other members of the committee who were
present at the hearing, including Representatives Bob Filner (D-CA) and Luis
While the VA was harshly criticized by members of Congress, prominent medical
organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the
American Osteopathic Association (AOA) attempted to block efforts by the ACA
and other chiropractic groups that were pushing for legislation that would
mandate access to chiropractic on a "direct access" and "full scope of
In response, the ACA and other chiropractic groups pointed out that
chiropractic adjustments have been proven effective for the nation's military
personnel. Reports from the Department of Defense Chiropractic Health Care
Demonstration Project (CHCDP), recently completed at military treatment
facilities across the country, show that chiropractic care not only reduced
disability and improved patient satisfaction, but also could potentially save
199,000 work days per year for the DOD. "I believe the benefits of
chiropractic care will continue to be proven with the addition of
chiropractic services in the military health care system," said ACA
representative Rick McMichael, DC, a member of the CHCDP Oversight Committee.
"It should be noted that doctors of chiropractic are licensed and regulated
in all 50 states as independently practicing health care professionals," Dr.
McMichael continued. "All of these jurisdictions recognize chiropractors'
rights and responsibilities to serve as first- contact, portal-of-entry
providers. As such, doctors of chiropractic possess the diagnostic skills
necessary to differentiate health conditions that are amenable to their
management from those conditions that require referral or co-management with
another professional." Dr. McMichael pointed to the extensive academic and
clinical training doctors of chiropractic receive through accredited
chiropractic colleges across the country - training that includes the use of
diagnostics and therapeutics.
Also testifying on behalf of the chiropractic profession were representatives
of the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC) and the International
Chiropractors Association (ICA).
The hearing came just days after an amendment regarding chiropractic care for
veterans prepared by staff of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and due to
be inserted in legislation pending before the full U.S. House of
Representatives was dropped from inclusion in the overall measure after the
ACA and other groups rejected the staff-authored proposal as being woefully
"inadequate." Preparation of the congressional staff-authored proposal came
after the ACA, ACC and ICA urged the House Veterans Affairs Committee to
include a "full scope and direct access" chiropractic provision in H.R. 5109
(the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Personnel Act of 2000) when
that bill was "marked-up" by the House VA Committee on September 13. At the
committee's mark-up session, several members of the committee indicated their
support for including a chiropractic-related amendment in the bill --
provided acceptable legislative language could be agreed upon -- prior to a
vote on the measure by the full House of Representatives.
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) is the largest chiropractic
organization in the country, representing nearly 20,000 members.
Chiropractic is the third largest doctoral-level health care profession in
the western world after medicine and dentistry. In the United States, the
governments of all states license and regulate doctors of chiropractic as
independently practicing health care professionals. The major treatment
applied by doctors of chiropractic is spinal adjustment or manipulation to
correct a subluxation.
SOURCE American Chiropractic Association