Veterans Secretary Appoints Chiropractic Advisory Committee

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Veterans Secretary Appoints Chiropractic Advisory Committee
Creation of Committee Required by Act of Congress Appointments Raise Fears of Continued DVA Bias Against Chiropractic

WASHINGTON, DC -- Six months after President Bush signed historic legislation mandating the establishment of a chiropractic health benefit within the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) health care system, DVA Secretary Anthony Principi yesterday announced the appointment of an 11-member advisory committee comprised of six doctors of chiropractic and five other health care professionals to oversee implementation of the new law.

While the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) vigorously lobbied Congress for passage of the new law and the establishment of an appropriate advisory committee, the ACA fears some of Secretary Principi's choices to serve on the new committee reflect a continued hostility toward chiropractic on behalf of the DVA's notoriously anti-chiropractic bureaucracy. The new advisory committee includes several well-known and distinguished members of the chiropractic profession such as chairman Reed Phillips, DC, PhD, president of the Southern California University of Health Sciences; Ronald Evans, DC, associate professor at Northwestern College of Chiropractic and Cynthia Vaughn, DC, president of the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

However, the newly-appointed committee also includes Charles DuVall, DC, an individual the ACA regards as being openly hostile to the intent and purpose of the new legislation. Dr. DuVall is affiliated with the National Association of Chiropractic Medicine, a group that is opposed to virtually all programs and policies advocated by the ACA and supported by the chiropractic profession. Although his appointment appears to give mainstream chiropractic majority representation on the committee, Dr. DuVall's participation could tip the scales against chiropractic - if he continues his past conduct of aligning with the medical profession. The ACA believes Dr. DuVall's obvious bias against chiropractic should prevent him from serving on the committee, and ACA officials will urge Secretary Principi to reconsider his nomination.

"While I am pleased that Dr. Phillips has been designated by Secretary Principi to serve as chairman of the DVA Chiropractic Advisory Committee, it is very alarming to me that the Secretary would also choose to include someone like Dr. Duvall on the committee. He is a divisive force, and, in my judgment, does not want the chiropractic profession to gain additional acceptance nor does he wish us to make progress in any way," said Daryl D. Wills, DC, president of the ACA. "I fear his appointment is a warning sign that the well-entrenched anti-chiropractic bureaucracy at the DVA is alive and well, and will be working hard to try to sabotage or severely limit the scope of the new benefit. Dr. Phillips and the responsible members of the committee are going to have their hands full working with the likes of Duvall and equally hostile DVA bureaucrats."

The ACA is also concerned that the advisory committee includes five non-DCs -- two medical doctors, an osteopath, a physical therapist and a physicians assistant -- some of whom may have little or no knowledge of the chiropractic profession, or may have pre-existing biases against the profession. In fact, some health provider groups representing these professions actively worked to kill the legislation responsible for creating this committee. In addition, ACA is concerned that mid-level practitioners -- such as physical therapists and physicians assistants -- may be swayed by their aspirations to compete with doctors of chiropractic in the health care marketplace.

The full list of members of the Advisory Committee is as follows:
  • Reed B. Phillips, DC, PhD., of Los Angeles, chairman. President of the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic at the Southern California University of Health Sciences and member of the Department of Defense (DoD) Chiropractic Health Care Demonstration Oversight Advisory Committee. Served in Utah National Guard.
  • Charles E. DuVall, Jr., DC, of Akron, Ohio. President of the National Association of Chiropractic Medicine. Navy veteran and combat medic in Vietnam.
  • Ronald C. Evans, DC, of Urbandale, Iowa. Chief executive officer of ICPC, a specialty provider network. Associate professor at Northwestern College of Chiropractic, Bloomington, Minn. Member of DoD Chiropractic Health Care Demonstration Oversight Advisory Committee. Navy veteran.
  • Leona Marie Fischer, DC, of Elmhurst, Il. Certified emergency medical technician and massage therapist. Member, International of the Board of Governors for World Chiropractic Alliance. Navy veteran.
  • Warren A. Jones, MD, of Jackson, Miss. President of the American Academy of Family Physicians and clinical professor of family medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Retired Navy Medical Corps captain and former special assistant to the Navy Surgeon General.
  • Michael S. McLean, DC, of Virginia Beach, Va. Member of the board of directors of the International Chiropractors Association and post-graduate faculty member of Life College of Chiropractic in Marietta, Ga. Served in the Navy Reserve.
  • Brian P. Murphy, of Salt Lake City. Clinical manager of rehabilitation at VA Salt Lake City Healthcare System and instructor at the University of Utah.
  • Michael K. Murphy, DO, of Pikeville, Ky. Executive director of the Appalachian Osteopathic Postgraduate Training Institute Consortium and professor of family medicine at Pikeville College's School of Osteopathic Medicine. Retired Navy captain and liaison to the DoD Chiropractic Health Care Demonstration Oversight Advisory Committee.
  • Michael J. O'Rourke, of Washington, D.C.. Assistant director of Veterans Health Policy with the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Marine Corps veteran, served in Vietnam, later commissioned as a physician assistant.
  • Paul Gordon Shekelle, MD, PhD, of Los Angeles. Physician at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
  • Cynthia S. Vaughn, DC, of Austin, Texas. President of the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners, and Texas delegate to the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards.
Legislation mandating the establishment of a permanent chiropractic benefit within the DVA health care system (Public Law 107-135) was signed into law by President Bush in January. The law authorizes the hiring of doctors of chiropractic in the DVA health system, sets a broad scope of chiropractic practice, and allows the chiropractic profession to oversee the development and implementation of the new benefit through an advisory committee, partially composed of representatives of the chiropractic profession. The requirement to establish an advisory committee was designed to help ensure appropriate input by the chiropractic profession into the implementation of the new benefit. The agreement is similar to legislative language that became law in 2000 requiring the Department of Defense to establish a permanent chiropractic benefit for active duty military personnel.

"We have already registered our concerns about the makeup of the committee to our key contacts in Congress. In the final analysis, if the advisory committee does anything that isn't in keeping with the intent of the new law, we're going to go back to Congress for additional action. We intend to keep on top of the DVA Secretary and Congress and actively press our case until a comprehensive chiropractic benefit is fully in place system-wide within the DVA health care system," stated Dr. Wills.

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