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Dynamic Chiropractic – April 23, 2005, Vol. 23, Issue 09

Chiropractic on Capitol Hill

By Karen Stretch, assistant editor
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) held its 30th annual National Chiropractic Legislative Conference (NCLC) in Washington, D.C., March 3-5, 2005. Attendees heard advocates of the profession speak about the need for chiropractic preventative health care to be implemented into government health programs. Expanding chiropractic benefits to Medicare beneficiaries, veterans, and active-duty military personnel were also listed as top priorities for the legislators and policy-makers who spoke during the conference.

Anthony Principi, former secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, addressed conference attendees: "I am very proud that you are now part of the VA," said Principi. "When doctors of chiropractic deliver effective treatment ... then we have achieved our mutual goal of service to the men and women who have honorably served this nation." On March 30, 2004, Principi announced an historic and far-reaching blueprint for formalizing the full inclusion of chiropractic care into the massive veterans health care system in the United States.

ACA President Donald Krippendorf, DC, commented on Principi's diligence in having chiropractic included in the VA system: "There is probably no one individual who has done more to include chiropractic services in the health care system. He personally ensured that chiropractic be part of the VA, and in doing so, he broadened the vision of health care," said Dr. Krippendorf.

Another high-profile speaker at NCLC 2005 was Vice Admiral Donald Arthur, MD, surgeon general of the Navy and chief of the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. A chiropractic patient himself, Vice Adm. Arthur told attendees that he was "amazed at the education and competence" of the DCs at the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton, Calif. (one of the sites authorized by the Department of Defense to provide chiropractic care), and that in the Navy, orthopedic surgeons are the group most grateful for chiropractic because DCs allow them to treat the best surgical candidates and work as part of the rehabilitation team. "You make their surgical successes even better because you take their surgery, and the people who have their surgery, and ensure that they are rehabilitated to the maximum extent possible," he said.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a longtime supporter of chiropractic, was one of many members of Congress in attendance at this year's legislative conference. "We need a radical change of course. We need a fundamental paradigm shift. We need a move towards wellness and prevention," said Sen. Harkin. "Take heart - you are on the right path because you treat the whole person, which is really the answer to what we need in America today."

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the chief sponsor of the Medicare Chiropractic Demonstration Project, which will test expanded access to chiropractic services for America's seniors, said he will continue to work with chiropractic because of its focus on prevention and wellness. "We appreciate the wellness programs that your profession promotes because they fit right into what we have to do [to move health care into the 21st century]."

Other legislators who spoke at the 2005 conference included Sens. George Allen (R-Va.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Reps. Michael Rogers (R-Ala.), and Heather Wilson (R-N.M.). Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Howard Coble (R-N.C.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) were also involved in NCLC activities.

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