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Dynamic Chiropractic – August 13, 2001, Vol. 19, Issue 17

If not CAM, then What?

Chiropractic Breaks New Care Ground in U.S.

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher
Dr. Allan Korn, chief medical officer of the national Blue Cross/Blue Shield Association, made some startling comments when he addressed the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) at its May 14, 2001 public hearing in Washington, D.C.

In commenting on the coverage offered for CAM programs, Dr. Korn made this observation:

"...for purposes of this statement, chiropractic is not considered to be complementary and alternative medicine. The Blue Cross/Blue Shield Association believes that chiropractic has become a stakeholder in the 'politically dominant health system' of the United States. The NIH Office of Alternative Medicine defines complementary and alternative medicines as healing resources outside the politically dominant system.

"So, we could talk a great deal more about it, but we have become impressed with the contribution that that model of care has in the global picture. Again, that is overlaid on a long history and many other things, but that is why, at this point, it probably makes sense to put them outside of the CAM circle."

The "Blues" are not the only organizations to come to this conclusion. Over the past few years, surveys within the health care industry regularly segment chiropractic from the rest of "alternative care" when asking specific question regarding coverage and satisfaction.

So what does this mean?

Up to this point, all health care has been medical, allied, alternative or specialized. Obviously, we're not medical. Are we now going to be considered allied or specialized?

Rereading Dr. Korn's comments, one would almost think that the chiropractic profession had opened new territory "outside of the CAM circle." You sense this as a place of respect and recognition won only by persistently caring for millions of people while gathering the necessary research to confirm our efficacy.

Assuming, for a moment, that chiropractic won't be pigeonholed into another generalized category, what does this mean for our future?

  • Has chiropractic's existence effectively transformed health care to create an environment where medical and wellness can coexist?

  • Is this new territory "outside of the CAM circle" reserved for chiropractic only, or can other alternative care professions reach this level or recognition?

  • Do we have a responsibility to assist other professions in reaching the same plateau?

     

  • Where do we go from here? Is this the best we can do, or can we expect to further influence health care by researching additional benefits of chiropractic and integrating more deeply with all health care disciplines?

As a chiropractic patient, it strikes me that wellness is all-inclusive. And while most of our patients may look to us for back pain, there is no reason why DCs shouldn't be able to emphasize particular patient needs as the focus of their practices. While orthopedics, radiology and pediatrics are obvious chiropractic specialties, there should be more work done on migraines, respiratory and internal disorders. And why not psychiatry and cancer? Does chiropractic have a role to place in addressing these disorders? If chiropractic truly affects wellness, shouldn't there be DCs who specialize in providing adjunct chiropractic care specifically targeted for all ailments?

The health care model is being modified to create a special territory for chiropractic. There is no reason why we shouldn't expand the territory by exploring the height, breadth and depth of chiropractic to its fullest; to establish how it can benefit all types of ailments. While we may not find a particular chiropractic technique that can be shown effective for every ailment, we owe it to our profession and the people we serve to find out.

Chiropractic spent most of its first 100 years trying to survive, while millions learned about the benefits firsthand. This century can be one of exploring the full scope of what you do and how it can benefit the world.

Don't be shy about exploring and proving chiropractic's full potential.

Donald M. Petersen Jr.,BS, HCD (hc), FICC(h)
Editor / Publisher,
Dynamic Chiropractic


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