Category Archives: Politics & Chiropractic

National Chiropractic Health Month 2014

October is National Chiropractic Health Month.

Chiropractic is utilized by about 10% of the population of the USA, but 80% of the population will have back pain. With stats like that not to mention all of the other conditions that chiropractic can help with. Many more people should be seeing chiropractors. To help get the word out to people that there is an alternative to simply masking their pain with drugs, I am participating in National Chiropractic Health Month. You can participate too.  This year’s theme is “Conservative Care First.” Take a look and come join in the sharing at it begins next week. 

Alternative Medicine or Alternative To Medicine

There are many alternative medicines.  Chiropractic is not one of them.

There are many alternative medicines. Chiropractic is not one of them.

According to the medical community I practice Alternative Medicine.   I don’t use any medicine in my practice at all.  An alternative medicine to Tylenol would be Advil, not chiropractic.  Perhaps if it was said that chiropractic is an alternative to medicine rather than chiropractic is Alternative Medicine then I could accept it.  The medical community is obtaining a monopoly on health care terminology.

It may not have been planned that way originally, but there are now laws being put forward by medical associations to ban non-MDs from using the title doctor or physician.  Below are a few samples of how the medical community refers to other providers of health care:

Here is the (government) MedlinePlus take (emphasis added):

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the term for MEDICAL products and practices that are not part of standard care. Standard care is what medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, and allied health professionals, such as nurses and physical therapists, practice.The claims that CAM treatment providers make can sound promising. However, researchers do not know how safe many CAM treatments are or how well they work…

They later recommend you discuss it with your “doctor”  implying of course medical doctor. This article leads you to the belief that “alternative medicine” is non-standard and of unknown safety.

This article on Wikipedia makes me want to become a Wikipedia editor.

Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but is not based on evidence gathered with the scientific method… Examples include homeopathy, traditional [folk] medicine, chiropractic and acupuncture.

Despite the myriad of medical treatments that are based on tradition rather than on the scientific method, and despite the mountain of scientific research supporting chiropractic treatment this article still exists.  

The Mayo Clinic starts it’s CAM article by saying “You’ve heard the hype about complementary and alternative medicine.  Now get the facts.”  They list chiropractic as CAM, and then proceed to tell us that many medical doctors don’t have any training in CAM.  They state that some CAM treatments have been proven effective (perhaps Wikipedia should cite the Mayo Clinic), but warn that because some aren’t proven you should talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of these treatments about which they have no training.

I recommend that you discuss your treatments and possible treatments with all of your providers.  They should all be working as a team and some treatments do interact poorly.  The purpose of this article is not to discourage communication with your medical provider nor to disparage them.  Most of the medical doctors that I have worked with are well trained, intelligent, and work with alternative providers to compliment their own treatments.Conversation-bubble

I would like to bring attention to the fact that words have meaning.  Chiropractors have struggled for years to come up with good terminology in our profession, even skipping the debate on the word “subluxation,” we’re still left saying things like “it went” after a successful treatment.  Chiropractors need to do better producing our terminology, because if we don’t the medical community will.

According to the State of Utah I am a Chiropractic Physician, According to the Department of Education I am a Doctor of Chiropractic.  I am a practitioner that provides an alternative to medicine, but I am not an Alternative Medicine provider.

Informed Consent

In Connecticut there is a debate over chiropractic and the topic of informed consent.  (News Article) The debate is not over whether there should be informed consent.  In fact, in the United States, informed consent is already mandatory for all health care providers.  Informed consent is supported by chiropractors.  It is in the best interest of our patients .  No!  This debate is over whether chiropractors should be forced to inform every patient of a risk of stroke.

There are many problems with this.

CAUTION: there are risks to drinking water!

The most obvious is that chiropractic is not known to cause stroke.  The only evidence even remotely related does not show that it causes stroke, but that there is an association.  The same association that exists with medical doctors (oh, and hair dressers).  So if it’s not known to cause it why would you force chiropractors to inform people of the risk.  I think I know the reason.

If it is required for chiropractors then it should also be required of all health care practitioners that have equivalent risks. Can you imagine walking into every doctor’s office and having to sign a paper that says that if you came to that office to see them for neck, head or upper back pain there is a possibility you could have a stroke after seeing this doctor. Either no one would go to doctors for those conditions or it would become so prevalent that the warning would become like the boy who cried wolf, useless.

Another problem is the actual risk level that we are talking about. The risk of having a stroke after seeing a chiropractor is somewhere in the region of 30-300 times less likely than you dying in a lightning strike.  Should I have to also warn my patients that they may aspirate  and die from that water I recommended they drink.

Defining what must be included in informed consent adds loopholes for dishonest people and destroys the purpose of informed consent, that of an honest and open conversation between a doctor and a patient.  Please doctors share the likely and serious risks with your patients.  Inform them, by all means.  Don’t get ridiculous.

Chiropractic Care Could $ave Billions

A new study by Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield suggests that people who seek chiropractic care for common spinal diagnoses have a 10-23% cost savings over traditional medical care.

Over the past decade or two there have been occasional studies investigating the effectiveness of chiropractic care.  I’ve reported on some of them in the past.  In general the studies look at low back pain.  They usually find that chiropractic care is at least as effective as traditional care in results without the side effects.  Very few have looked at costs.  As expected some of the studies are less favorable and some are more.  The preponderance of the evidence points to good outcomes, few side effects and cost savings over the traditional care.

With the public eye on health reform and cost savings; here are some numbers that should be considered.  At any given time about 15% of the US population suffers from back issues.  In 2005 we as a nation spent $85.9 billion on back treatments, yet only 8% of Americans have used chiropractic.  To extrapolate out from this study and these numbers there is an annual health care savings of about $9-20 Billion to be had just by referring all back pain patients to chiropractors.  (That could pay for numerous Cash for Clunkers programs or actually save the taxpayers money.)

So, call your congressman or the White House.  Tell them if they have to pass some sort of health insurance reform to make sure it includes the cost saving advantages of chiropractic care.  Go to http://www.chirovoice.org/ to find out how to support chiropractic politically, or directly here to contact your representatives.

Health Crisis

In reading many of the articles recently about the “health care crisis” and “universal health care” I have decided to weigh in.  First of all our medical care is top in the world.  You cannot get better care any where else.  We have the best facilities, schools, doctors, surgeons etc.   They can save your life when the time comes.  There is no debate.  So the problem isn’t with our medical ability.  So what is the crisis?  Some people think that the crisis is that it costs too much or that it’s not accessible to enough people.  This is a result of the crisis, but not the crisis its self.

The crisis is that everyone seems to think that our medical establishment is designed to keep us healthy rather than what it is designed for, to save lives.  We all know what we should do to be healthy, it’s called maintenance.  We understand it with cars and houses.  We know that if we eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest, a check up and a tune up occasionally then barring some unforeseen accident or extreme illness we will be healthy.  Some times your insurance will cover an annual physical/checkup, but it will not cover exercise.  Chiropractic maintenance isn’t either.  That’s understandable, none of your car maintenance is covered in your car insurance.  That’s because car insurance only covers accidents and rare mishaps.  Even knowing that we still do it.  Because if you don’t take your car in for regular maintenance you expect it to break down.  What would happen to our country’s medical expenses if people did maintenance care on themselves?  Costs would go down.

That is the crisis.  The reason we cannot solve this crisis with new laws is because we live in a free country.  We cannot mandate that everyone make healthy choices.  The only way that we can solve this crisis is through education, changing the hearts and minds of Americans when it comes to HEALTH care.

As an example here is a study that was done by insurance companies.  It found that people who sought regular chiropractic maintenance care cost the insurance company less.  Now that means that either chiropractic care reduces health care costs directly by reducing the frequency of illness; or that people who embrace the idea of maintenance care as taught by chiropractors are more willing to take healthy care of themselves.  Either way it’s a good thing.

Sure the government can offer help and even incentives, and so can insurance companies, but the attitude of the majority of Americans must change to a wellness model of health care.

Healthcare Reform More Powergrab than Reform

From what I can tell the major players are all fighting to get the most power from “Health Care Reform” that they can through positioning.  I get a sense of urgency from everyone in more ways than one.  There’s the hurry to the reform table  or we won’t get a seat.  That may be true, there are groups trying to cut people out now.  Second I feel like this reform is being pushed so fast so that no one will be able to see what it really is, kind of like the “Stimulus Bills” that no one even could read.

Here’s what I’ve seen at the meetings I’ve been too and in the news.  (I’m not even going to cite these things.  If anyone wants to link a story, feel free.)

The medical doctors are fighting a political battle to take away physician status from others.  They are doing this by trying to make it illegal to refer to yourself as a doctor unless you have the MD or DO degree.  This affects dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, chiropractors, lawyers, PhDs, etc…  They say it’s a public safety issue and they don’t want people confused, but in reality it goes to healthcare reform.  You see the “national health care” is to be modeled after medicaid/medicare (Oh that’s a good idea, they run great.) which places control with the physician.  If your a non-physician provider then you have less control and pay.  MD’s don’t go to management school, they are no better suited to be in charge of a musculoskeletal patient than they are to be in charge of a a patients teeth.  MDs have no extra special training.  It’s a power grab.

Physical Therapists are trying to become doctors for the same reason.  They don’t like being technicians and want some of that market share, so without really adding education they are trying to take the title or responsibilities.  Here in Utah recently they tried to sneak the term diagnose into their law, it’s just a term they said.  Well, doctors diagnose because they have the training, PT’s don’t have the training.

I know these turf wars are going all over throughout healthcare.  I’m just more aware of the chiropractic ones.  There are battles for control going between providers and insurance companies, and insurance and government officials, the only group that I don’t see fighting is the patients.  Why is that?  Why won’t the people speak up and take personal responsibility?  It’s your health take care of it!  Here’s one way you can: ChiroVoice it’s the voice of patients.

Commission Chiropractors Goes Blogging

The commissionchiropractors.com website that I follow and support has changed venues.  It has apparently come to join us on wordpress.  The new format will allow us to communicate directly with other interested parties, as well as make it easier for us to share with others.  Go check out the new location at commissionchiropractors.wordpress.com

Legislative Issue Briefs Are Here

As I posted about previously, the National Chiropractic Legislative Conference (NCLC) is about to get under way in Washington DC.  They have just released the issue briefs that they will be presenting to our senators and representatives.  Y0u can do your part by familiarizing your self with these issues and contacting your elected officials about these topics.  The ACA has chosen 6 areas of emphasis this year.  They are:

Veterans Affairs (VA)

Medicare

National Health Reform

TRICARE

Department of Defense (DOD)

Chiropractic A Low Cost Solution

All of these issues are of great importance, but one is close to home for me in more ways than one.  I grew up with my father in the military.  I know many servicemen and women.  I have always wanted to serve my country and support these brave men and women.

Image from www.hill.af.mil

There are currently 11 new civilian positions required to begin by September of this year for chiropractors.  I would prefer chiropractors be commissioned, but as long as we provide chiropractic care to these soldiers who need it most then I am ok.  If that mean civilian posts, that is fine.  I will be writing to my representatives with two proposals and encourage you to do the same.  Commission Chiropractors in the military.  Baring that option, then at least provide a civilian chiropractic position for our troops here in Utah at Hill Air Force Base.

Image from www.hill.af.mil

The 75th Medical Group at Hill AFB provides health care for more than 5000 active duty military and medical services for over 50,000 TRICARE beneficiaries.  There is no chiropractic treatment for our military here in Utah, despite that full hospital facillity at Hill AFB.  If we don’t commission them then I want Hill AFB Utah to be one of those 11 new sites designated this year.  Please contact your representatives with this information.  Let’s provide for our troops who do so much for us.

Childish Insurance Policy

Tuft’s Health Plan in Massachusetts had their policy, disallowing adjusting of children, brought to light last year.  When the ACA pointed out that the American Academy of Pediatric (AAP)’s resolution, on which they were

Michael Grunow

Image by: Michael Grunow

basing their policy, didn’t exist they continued the policy this time claiming to base it on research.  The ACA looked into the research cited and found that it was shody, false and some of it didn’t have a single reference to manipulation.  They sent another letter pointing out this little oversight.  Tuft’s still denies being wrong. Their reply was simply:

“Thank you for your letter regarding Tufts Health Plan’s revised coverage policy for spinal manipulation in children. While Tufts Health Plan acknowledges the potential benefits of chiropractic care in adults, our Medical Affairs Medical Policy (MAMP) Committee determined that these services will not be covered for children less than 12 years of age. The MAMP Committee based this decision on a review of the available medical literature. This policy is consistent with that of a high quality competitor health plan in our region.”

So, now it’s not the AAP and it’s ‘not research, it’s everyone else is doing it. See the original Chiropractic Economics article here.  This is only one reason to support your local and national associations.


Support Chiropractic Legislation

Each year, chiropractors get together to try to promote legislation that would advance people’s access to chiropractic care.  This meeting is NCLC (National Chiropractic Legislative Conference) in Washington DC usually at the end of February.  I thought I’d let you know what is going on or going to go on there.

Last November the leaders of the ACA (American Chiropractic Association) met to discuss the issues facing the profession.  Each year they come up with 5-7 issues that need action.  Legislative briefs are created so that those of us addressing our elected officials have some data to fall back on.  They usually put these out a week or two before the conference so you have a chance to review them and understand the issue at hand.  Here are last years briefs.  I will post the briefs for this year as soon as they are put out.  Look for those here in the next few weeks.

According to the ACA website this years NCLC will focus on “Grassroots mobilization, empowering patients and supporters to become involved in the legislative process as citizen lobbyists and the effective training of DCs as spokespersons and organizers of grassroots activity.”  This is an example of government by the people.  We are the people.  We get to make the rules, so let’s take part in our own governance.

Already this month, the first chiropractic legislation of this year was introduced in the US House of Representatives.  It is H. R. 484 introduced by Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL).  Click here to take action to help get this bill passed.  This bill attempts to extend chiropractic care in the military health system to U.S. military retirees, dependents and survivors through the Defense Department’s TRICARE program.  Here is some background information on the issue from the ACA.  It’s an older code, but it checks out.