THE CHIROPRACTIC PROFESSION joined together in Washington, D.C., at the American Chiropractic Association’s 2016 National Chiropractic Leadership Conference (NCLC) on Feb. 24-27, to advocate for further integration of chiropractic into the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system, to fight for Medicare equality and promote other numerous health care issues at one of the most prestigious annual gatherings celebrating chiropractic. Some 800 chiropractic physicians, students and representatives attended NCLC; the event provides a unique opportunity for supporters of chiropractic to help set the direction for the future of the profession.
ACA led the fight for Medicare parity for chiropractic patients as its members made their voices heard on Capitol Hill during NCLC. Doctors of chiropractic (DCs), chiropractic assistants and students participated in federal advocacy briefings and met with federal legislators on Capitol Hill to educate them on this year’s advocacy campaign aimed at gaining ground for chiropractic physicians in the VA health care system. Face-to-face meetings were held educating them on DCs’ conservative care-first approach delivering high value, safe treatment and superior patient satisfaction.
In his opening address to attendees, then ACA President Anthony Hamm, DC, focused on the immediate need for profession-wide support for Medicare reform. Dr. Hamm thanked the growing number of chiropractic state associations, colleges and vendors supporting the National Medicare Equality Petition (i.e., www.acatoday.org/equality/doctors.) NCLC 2016 marked the transition from Dr. Hamm’s two-year ACA presidency to the swearing in of David Herd, DC, as ACA president on Feb. 27 at NCLC 2016’s end.
Congressional Keynote Speaker Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), well-known for his support of quality health care for America’s veterans, guided the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act through the Senate late last year, which included an ACA-backed provision expanding access to the services provided by chiropractic physicians in the Department of Veterans Affairs health delivery system. Sen. Isakson discussed the need for chiropractic care to be made available to veterans returning from Iraq, stating, “62 percent of our veterans coming home need musculoskeletal work,” while noting, “10.3 percent of veterans returning are women. They carry rucksacks over 70 pounds so they need chiropractic care.”
Attendees also heard from Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.), a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, who noted issues of importance to chiropractic physicians including Medicare equality, enacting legislation providing access to chiropractic care to TRICARE beneficiaries and eliminating disparities in access to chiropractic services by veterans. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Subcommittee on Health, said studies show achieving parity for chiropractors in Medicare alone will achieve $900 million in cost savings. He also said he has been working with ACA to get a chiropractic representative on MedPAC (Medicare Payment Advisory Commission), which is a commission that makes recommendations to Congress regarding what should or shouldn’t be reimbursed in health care.
Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and who sees a chiropractic physician, said he believes increased utilization of chiropractic will drive down health care costs.
McAndrews Leadership Lecture
NCLC 2016 marked the second annual McAndrews leadership lecture and was introduced by prominent chiropractic researcher, Michele Maiers, DC, MPH, PhD, and delivered this year by Greg Kawchuk, DC, PhD, renowned researcher and associate professor at the University of Alberta. Dr. Kawchuk gave an action-packed talk that captivated the audience by having him simultaneously undressing, throwing T-shirts, joking and prancing across the stage, all prior to introducing the topic: “Chiro-static–Put the Act Back into Chiropractic.”
When serious, Dr. Kawchuk stated that as research chair of the World Federation of Chiropractic, (WFC) he travels all around the globe. (For more on Dr. Kawchuk’s research at WFC, see Easy Chiropractic Reading List, Online at WFC, March 2016 ACA News, Page 32, at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/publication/?i=290080.)
Dr. Kawchuk called the profession in “crisis” such that “it threatens whether we will have jobs in 25 years.” He called it a “crisis of individualism within ourselves.” As an example, he showed a chiropractic office 125 years ago and one today that had not changed, and said “we need to move on,” using the example of McDonald’s, where everyone is on board. He called for homogeneity, which he sees in the chiropractic profession now in Denmark, Canada, Switzerland and Iran. He also pointed out that pay-for–performance is important in Canada, meaning you have to meet community standards or you don’t get paid.
“We are not as safety-oriented as we think we are,” Dr. Kawchuk said, addressing the need for a place to report injury. He pointed to Great Britain as having a voluntary place to report injury information, while noting Canada is attempting to implement an adverse event reporting point. “It’s about patients,” he said, “and our next step in safety is to report.” Dr. Kawchuk left the audience with the question: “Can we take randomness and create consistency and unity?”
“Who leads our profession now?” Dr. Kawchuk then asked the audience, answering, “I think it’s no one.” He believes society has changed and that what leads the chiropractic profession is data and how DCs use evidence — everyone has access to the same information now. “I want the profession to evolve, and we need to let it evolve,” he said. “Data can’t lead; I misspoke earlier,” he said. “You need people like me and Michele (Maiers) to tell you where the data leads.” Then he added, “Data is the great democratizer as it makes leaders out of all of us.”
Dr. Kawchuk then took the audience through 10 important points for the evidence-based chiropractic-centered model to be built on. Look for the full text of the presentation to be published in Journal of Chiropractic Humanities.
ACA’s House of Delegates (HOD) got down to business during its annual meeting at NCLC, passing resolutions and issuing a policy statement proposing a solution to the dual public health concerns of INADEQUATE PAIN MANAGEMENT and OPIOID ABUSE. The policy statement supports:
• investigation of non pharmacologic interventions for pain treatment across a variety of patient populations and health care delivery settings;
• promotion of evidence-based non pharmacologic therapies within best practice models for pain management;
• the improvement of access to providers of non pharmacologic therapies;
• inter-professional education to augment the training of pain management teams; and
• public health campaigns to raise awareness of drug-free treatment options for pain syndromes.
“Chiropractic’s non-drug approach to pain management puts this profession in a unique position to help reduce the prescription drug abuse, misuse and overdose that is currently plaguing the nation,” said newly installed ACA President David A. Herd, DC. “ACA has done much already to bring attention to chiropractic as a conservative treatment option for pain. We must continue to amplify our message as well as promote other strategies moving forward.” (See Chiropractic Added to Joint Commission Standard on Pain Management, Jan./Feb. 2015 ACA News, Page 8 at http://bit.ly/1oYVinj)