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Dynamic Chiropractic – November 30, 2000, Vol. 18, Issue 25

Congressmen Challenge VA to Develop "Meaningful Chiropractic Participation"

By Editorial Staff
You may recall that representatives from the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (DCs Reed Phillips and George Goodman), the American Chiropractic Association (Rick McMichael,DC), and the International Chiropractors Association (Michael McLean,DC, and Ron Hendrickson) testified before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health on October 3. Also testifying were representatives from the Department of Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense. (See "Chiropractic Takes DVA to Task in Subcommittee Hearings" in the November 1 issue.)
While the chiropractic groups felt they had presented the profession well in the hearings, they wondered how they were perceived by the subcommittee, and how the subcommittee reacted to the written testimony submitted by the World Chiropractic Alliance, the AMA, the American Osteopathic Association, and the American Physical Therapy Association.

The chiropractic profession was bolstered, and some of their concerns answered, when a letter signed by Congressman Bob Stump, chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, and other representatives, chastised the Under Secretary for Health for the VA's lack of progress in fully integrating chiropractic. The letter is also an indication that the testimony provided during the recent VA hearings by the ACA, ACC and ICA resonated with key members of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, despite efforts by fringe groups to derail those efforts.

Here is that letter:
BOB STUMP, chairman

October 26, 2000

Honorable Thomas L. Garthwaite
Under Secretary for Health Department of Veterans Affairs
Washington, D.C. 20420

Dear Dr. Garthwaite:

We appreciate the views presented by VA witnesses Dr. Frances Murphy and Dr. Thomas Holohan of your staff at our October 3, 2000 Health Subcommittee hearing on chiropractic care.

It is our duty to ensure that veterans receive the full complement of health services they earned by serving this country. The law requires VA to be a "complete hospital and medical service." In comparison to other health care services it makes routinely available to veterans nationwide, however, VA provides only an insignificant volume of chiropractic care.

Chiropractic services are licensed in 50 U.S. states and abroad, and are routinely covered by health insurers, Medicare, and many states' Medicaid programs. Even though chiropractic care has been in existence for over 100 years, VA has yet to employ on staff its first chiropractic practitioner, and VA openly admits to authorizing only a scant amount of reimbursement for contracted services. After prodding by this Committee, VA finally developed a published policy on chiropractic care, but its purpose seems aimed at restricting veterans' access to these services. At this juncture, we still hope to avoid drawing a conclusion that VA does not intend to expand chiropractic care to veterans absent a statutory mandate from Congress.

The Committee, on a bipartisan basis, was disturbed to learn that you apparently defined the statutory term "consultation" prior to issuing your policy as a single meeting with a group of chiropractic representatives in VA Central Office in February of 2000. We ask that you reach out to these practitioners again and develop a plan for meaningful chiropractic participation in VA health care. We urge that such actions be completed by early next year.

We challenge the VA to re-engage the chiropractic organizations to better understand chiropractic educational requirements and preparation, state licensure, specialization, board certification and appropriate scope of practice associated with the chiropractic conventions, in order to develop a compatible role for chiropractic in veterans' care. We suggest meaningful consultation with chiropractors, and with the Department of Defense in this regard as well.

Chiropractic is a legitimate form of therapy that many thousands of veterans have been paying out of their own pockets to obtain. For veterans who choose VA as their caregiver - and based on what we learned at our hearing about current VA policy - we cannot defend VA's continued restrictive use of this professional service. Please keep us informed of your progress in obtaining increased access to chiropractic care for veterans.

Bob Stump

Cliff Stearns
Chairman, Subcommittee on Health

Lane Evans
Ranking Democratic Member

Luis V. Gutierrez
Ranking Democratic Member

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