By Jack Dusik
With the 2017 National Chiropractic Leadership Conference (NCLC) behind us, a recap of event highlights and a review of how to continue the momentum generated by the chiropractic profession’s premier grassroots advocacy event is in order.
This year’s NCLC occurred in conjunction with “DC2017,” a historic conference hosted jointly by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) and the Association for Chiropractic Colleges (ACC). Held at the Washington Hilton, the event featured not only NCLC but also the 14th WFC Biennial Congress and the 24th ACC Research Agenda Conference (ACC-RAC). It was a world-class program attracting more than 1,300 participants from 29 different countries.
By all accounts, NCLC 2017 was a success, with hundreds of doctors of chiropractic (DCs), chiropractic students and supporters of the profession visiting members of Congress to discuss issues requiring congressional action, such as full integration of chiropractic throughout the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs health care systems and the opening of the National Health Service Corps to chiropractors.
Advocacy volunteers also successfully gathered support for elimination of the McCarran-Ferguson anti-trust exemption for health insurers by promoting H.R. 372, “The Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act,” which was championed by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). ACA has been an ally of Rep. Gosar in his attempt to increase competition in health insurance markets and lower prices for consumers. Shortly after NCLC, the House voted by an overwhelming margin of 416-7 to pass H.R. 372. Rep. Gosar and his staff noted ACA’s early and energetic support of the bill and have thanked us for our support.
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) delivered welcoming remarks to NCLC attendees highlighting his commitment as an advocate of health reform. Ryan, a central figure in advancing any health care legislation, has spoken strongly in favor of patient-centered care, including wellness programs, and empowering patients by giving them control over their care.
Another critical decision maker in Congress, Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, stopped by NCLC to discuss ways to give Americans better access to quality, affordable care during his presentation, “Impacting Access to Quality Spine Care Through Government Reform.”
Additionally, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), a rising star on Ways and Means (which has primary jurisdiction over Medicare law) expressed his support of pro-chiropractic reform within Medicare, stating that he would co-sponsor legislation enabling chiropractors to practice to and be reimbursed for the fullest extent of their licensure, training and competencies within Medicare.
That evening, in recognition of the vital role DCs play in the delivery of high-quality care in America’s ever-burdened health care system, NCLC attendees hosted congressional allies at ACAs annual Congressional Reception, held in the sweeping foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.
Notably, Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), a senior member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce – a key congressional health panel – said before an enthusiastic crowd, "I believe chiropractic has a place in our medical system, and I want to make sure you get reimbursed for it. Thank you for treating my constituents."
Rep. Green added that he would introduce legislation calling for the appointment of chiropractic physicians as officers in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Opening this program to chiropractors, who are arbitrarily prevented from participation, would improve the quality of America’s health care infrastructure by further integrating them into the nation’s official delivery and research networks.
Hopefully those of you who attended this event enjoyed the experience and how it motivated and empowered you to continue your advocacy on behalf of the profession. These in-person meetings by grassroots volunteers are the greatest opportunity to create a positive impression on the Hill, and if you haven’t done so, please remember to follow up on any meetings you attended during NCLC.
Post NCLC: Keep the Momentum Going on Your Lobbying Efforts
While we would like all chiropractic supporters to attend NCLC, this is simply impossible. Nonetheless, the work of relationship and support building must continue, and I encourage everyone -- whether you attended NCLC or not -- to take some easy but important steps that will further advance the goals of the chiropractic profession. Chiropractic has a powerful story to tell, and you can make your voice heard on Capitol Hill by calling or sending a message to your congressman through our Chiropractic Action Center. With a few clicks of a button, you can find your senator or representative’s information and take action.
By taking this simple, yet vital step, you will amplify the messages delivered during NCLC 2017, and help prompt members of Congress to act on the many issues we advocated for this year.
Take action today at http://cqrcengage.com/aca/action.
Jack Dusik is senior director of federal government relations at the American Chiropractic Association.