When you review the chiropractic profession's response to S.1955, you see immediately that a number of organizations are involved in mobilizing the profession.1 The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), International Chiropractors Association (ICA) and the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations (COCSA) are all participating in accordance with their size and stature in the profession.
In addition, Dynamic Chiropractic and a few other chiropractic publications have lent their communication expertise to getting the word out. While the coverage hasn't been very coordinated, the profession has benefited from numerous articles. (For the latest, see "S.1955 Under Fire: Opposition Grows" on page 1 of this issue.)
And while the end result is not known at the time this article is being written, the chiropractic profession is at least involved in the opportunity to react to a very serious threat. How effective our reaction has been remains to be seen.
What we don't know is the impact we could have had if there had been a doctor of chiropractic in the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate. Consider the following possibilities that might have come to fruition if only we'd had a DC in Washington, D.C.:
- Would this bill have even gotten out of committee?
- Would a DC in Congress have the power to change the language to our benefit?
- Would we have had more advanced warning and a better understanding of how to fight S.1955 strategically?
Once again, our lack of representation has made us more vulnerable than we should have been, and raises the obvious question - one that has been asked before: Why is it that we can't seem to get a chiropractor elected to U.S. Congress? (Bear in mind that according to Chiropractic: History and Evolution of a New Profession, one chiropractor, Anthony Tauriello (D-NY), has been elected to the House of Representatives, serving as a member of the 81st Congress from 1949 to 1951.)
Some would say it has always been lack of funds. Others might point to our perpetual Achilles heal: lack of professional unity. Regardless of the reason, whatever is holding us back is costing us in many subtle and not so subtle ways.
Without a chiropractic congressperson, we essentially have no voice, no presence, and no relationships with congressional decision-makers. The national and state chiropractic organizations are involved in lobbying and trying to forge relationships in Congress, but the daily interactions Senators and Representatives have with one another is different. Without a chiropractor in Congress, there is little to keep the interests of the chiropractic profession in the minds of the legislators who could truly influence health care policy.
The medical profession understood this issue a long time ago. For decades, there has been a medical doctor in Congress. Their very presence is a constant reminder of the medical profession and its interest. If you're a Senator or Representative, you think twice about voting on any bill that will hurt the medical profession, because you may need the vote of Senator MD on a bill that you want passed.
Eventually, we need to decide that the lack of representation in Congress is a hurdle we simply have to overcome.
We need to find a race we can win with a chiropractic candidate who has the right qualifications, and then we all need to support that candidate. While there are several DCs running right now,2,3 for whatever reason, they don't seem to be enjoying the support they need.
Electing a DC to Congress should be at the top of the agenda for the ACA and ICA. This should be their goal for the next two to four years, minimum.
They can work with COCSA, the chiropractic media and other large chiropractic organizations to raise the money and support required. We might even get chiropractic students to begin campaigning door to door. (This was done very effectively in California years ago, when the CCA wanted to defeat an anti-chiropractic state legislator.)
Something this important will take a lot of work. But we can do it if we all get involved and we make it our priority.
We should have had a DC in U.S. Congress years ago. Let's not wait any longer.
- Advocacy in action. Profession mobilizes against controversial health care bill. Dynamic Chiropractic, May 8, 2006. www.chiroweb.com/archives/24/10/01.html.
- Dr. Langheier goes to Washington: Florida DC running for Congress. Dynamic Chiropractic, March 26, 2006. www.chiroweb.com/archives/24/07/01.html.
- Kentucky DC Enters Race for U.S. Congress; Handful of Others Campaigning for State Seats. Dynamic Chiropractic, May 22, 2006. www.chiroweb.com/archives/24/11/07.html.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.