Over the past several months, ACA leaders, including the executive committee and Board of Governors, as well as staff have been developing a strategic plan moving toward structural reorganization. As a result of these efforts, ACA will concentrate on four primary operational pillars: organizational excellence, advocacy, communications and policy. This restructuring will allow your national association to focus on production of materials and ideas that will ultimately enhance our ability to increase utilization of chiropractic services to all the populations we serve. It’s also interesting how the four pillars tend to overlap and intertwine.
A prime example of this overlap is the thrust of advocacy and policy. Health care policy, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), refers to “plans and actions undertaken to achieve specific health care goals within a society. Policy also outlines priorities and the expected roles of different groups, and it builds consensus and informs people.”(1) Meaningful health policy drives action that will ultimately lead to better health for our patients and more consistent practice patterns throughout our profession.
From a conceptualization standpoint, health policy can be created by state, local and national governments or through and by various stakeholders. Stakeholders may include individuals, the public, health care professionals and organizations, managed care and insurance carriers, employers, the research community and special interest groups.2 As a national health care association, ACA has the duty and responsibility to create policies, standards of practice and position statements to help guide decision-making and actions and provide the framework for the organization to achieve its core vision and mission.3
While a plethora of current ACA policies and position statements have been created over the past 50 years, many are outdated or no longer provide contemporary or useful information related to health or the practice of chiropractic. Policies can be internal or external and are designed to drive action or inform. A position statement describes the position or viewpoint of our organization for communication purposes. Standards of practice outline expected levels of care/practice based on current evidence and clinical experience.3 I encourage each member to peruse the public policy page of the ACA website and consider offering suggestions on policy through state delegates. Policies are reviewed and considered during our annual House of Delegates (HOD) meeting.
Advocacy and policy are basically joined together. A recent example is development and approval of a position statement that promotes full-scope reimbursement for necessary chiropractic services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries through appropriate legislative and/or regulatory efforts. This was adopted in February 2015 by the HOD. As a result, ACA recently rolled out a campaign to promote significant Social Security Administration statutory changes that will define chiropractors as physicians and expand scope reimbursement. Policy leads to advocacy and communications.
In addition, a new policy from our American Public Health Association Chiropractic Health Section was recently approved. This policy promotes incorporating a higher level of complementary and integrative services for pain management in an effort to counteract the growing epidemic of opioid abuse and dependence.
Simply put, the stronger the ACA’s health policy, position statements and standards of care, the greater the chances of influencing public and private policy and ultimately health-related laws. This will in turn lead to better health for our patients and greater utilization of our services.
ACA. (2015). Handbook for Development and Maintenance of ACA Policies, Position Statements and Standards of Practice. Arlington, VA.
Health Topics. (2015). World Health Organization.
- Teitelbaum, J. (2013). Essentials of Health Policy and Law. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning: online resource.