Update Report for the Chiropractic Community

Issued 2/5/10

Little Light Shed on Prospects for Advancement of Health Reform Legislation as Key Leaders Struggle to Find Pathway Forward

Following the President’s State of Union Address last week, virtually no details have yet emerged as to how the White House and Congressional leaders hope to re-energize the stalled drive to enact comprehensive health reform legislation. For over a year President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) helped shape national health reform into a “top tier” issue, declaring time and again that the enactment of a comprehensive reform bill was a top priority goal, the achievement of which was crucial to the long-term economic well-being of the nation.
However, the path forward for the reform issue has progressed far more slowly than these leaders ever predicted, running into numerous obstacles, a host of time-consuming procedural delays and fierce opposition which seem to have grown even stronger now that forward movement on the issue seems to have reached the high-point of uncertainty, in the wake of the stunning defeat of Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley in last month’s special election in Massachusetts.  Thus far, neither the President’s national State of the Union Address, nor thepublic meeting he held with House Republicans last weekend, nor his televised meeting with Senate Democrats on Wednesday of this week seems to have altered the political dynamic and provided a sense of momentum that would help revitalize the issue.

The core problem remains that Democrats in Congress continue to remain divided on various provisions contained in the House (HR 3962) and Senate passed (HR 3590) health reform bills.  Speaker Pelosi, in particular, although her party has a significant majority in the House she continues to appear unable to rally enough Democrat votes from within her own party to ram the Senate passed bill through the House in an unmodified form, the procedural move that would guarantee a bill would be sent to the President for his signature into law, without threat of having to revisit the issue in the U.S. Senate where Democrats no longer have the 60 votes needed to overcome Republican filibusters.  Having lost the crucial senate seat previously held by the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Senate Majority Leader Reid remains in his own bind – apparently unable to overcome a remarkably unified Republican majority now comprising 41 votes with the swearing in of newly elected Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) that took place February 4th.

In the face of a determined and unified Republican minority, Leader Reid is now one vote short of the 60 votes needed under the rules of the Senate to force a final vote of a compromise health reform bill in progress of being fashioned from HR 3590 (Senate) and HR 3962 (House).  In recent days, the ACA has met with members of both parties in the House and Senate, and no consensus view has yet emerged as to how, or if, President Obama and his allies will be able to craft a workable strategy forward.  Some key leaders, such as Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa believe a winning strategy, if one can be forged, will be developed and settled on by Democrat leaders and President Obama before the end of February, bringing us right to the eve of this year’s National Chiropractic Legislative Conference before the next steps forward on the issue are revealed.
Some believe the only pathway forward is for the Democrat-controlled House to simply pass, as previously mentioned, the Senate passed bill in tact and avoid altogether the need to bring a “conferenced” or blended bill back to the Senate for consideration.  Proponents of this strategy say the House and Senate could then incorporate potential changes demanded by the House into another piece of legislation and consider that separately.  Such changes would almost surely be included in what is known as a “budget reconciliation” that would only require a simply majority of 51 votes to pass the Senate, should the Democrat leadership finalize on that approach.  As previously noted, however, Speaker Pelosi, at least currently seems to be well short of mustering the 218 votes she would need to move the Senate passed bill through the House.  Others believe the issue has become so “toxic” to incumbent Democrats, that the only path forward would involve “going back to the drawing board” and attempting to fashion as less comprehensive package of reforms that would attract at least some support from Republicans.  Again, as of this date, for firm strategy seems to have gelled among Democrat leaders in Congress and President Obama.  Watch here for future developments.
Doctors, Students Urged to Attend NCLC; Premier Legislative Event Now Around the Corner

ACA’s annual National Chiropractic Legislative Conference (NCLC) provides doctors of chiropractic with information on the latest legislative efforts affecting the profession – and the opportunity to meet with members of Congress to advocate for the issues that matter most to you and your patients.
By attending NCLC (Feb. 24-27, 2010), you will help strengthen chiropractic’s influence in Washington, D.C.  During this critical time of national health care reform, your assistance is more important than ever – register todayThe registration deadline is Friday, Feb. 12.

Support for CHIROVOICE and CHAMP Still Vital

A major tool that the ACA is using to help build support for chiropractic on Capitol Hill, is the national grassroots program called ChiroVoiceChiroVoice is ACA’s ongoing effort to build, grow and maintain a national database of chiropractic patient e-mail addresses.  This tool goes beyond health care reform: it is envisioned that this program will remain a valuable component of the ACA grassroots arsenal for years to come.  When needed, the patients are “activated” via electronic bulletins issued by the ACA, and instructed to take specific action in support of pro-chiropractic legislation.  The project, which is intended as a permanent, and continually growing resource is intended to benefit the profession and the patients its serves at by activating patients with respect to both federal and state-based issues.  All DCs are urged join in support of this important program.

Become a Chiropractic CHAMPion 

Late last year, the American Chiropractic Association has launched the Chiropractic Health Advocacy and Mobilization Project (CHAMP), a one-year campaign to raise funds in support of strategic lobbying activities intended to boost chiropractic’s profile on Capitol Hill. 

Chiropractic colleges, state associations, field doctors and even vendors and patients have joined the CHAMP effort in a unity of message like never before.  We are excited about what stands before us. Now is not the time to shrink back but rather the time to rearm and plan ahead for the next battles and opportunities. 
To donate online and to learn more on how you can help, visit www.ChiroCHAMP.org

Get the Latest News from Capitol Hill via YouTube

Are you getting the latest ACA health care updates via YouTube?  See this week’s installment on how health care reform is progressing and watch Week in Review and www.acatoday.org for future video updates.