As the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is implemented over the next few years, there has never been a more critical time for the chiropractic profession to remain unified in message and action, according to former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, one of Washington's most respected and well-known figures for more than 30 years.Gephardt, who spoke at a panel discussion at the American Chiropractic Association/Northeast Chiropractic Council Fall Conference, praised the chiropractic profession for its success in getting several pro-chiropractic provisions included in the health care reform law, but he also cautioned DCs not to think their battles are behind them.
"You have to keep on even after you've won," he said. "The moment of greatest danger is when you've won. You've got to keep going day after day."
In assessing why doctors of chiropractic were successful in getting language included in the PPACA, Gephardt cited the chiropractic profession's decision to speak with one voice through the Chiropractic Summit, make key contacts in Congress and reach out with individual patient stories to educate decision makers about the benefits of chiropractic care. "You did a good job articulating your values to Congress," he said.
The next step in health care reform, he continued, will involve the profession working to ensure that polices reflect the intent of the law and that pro-chiropractic provisions, such as the all-important non-discrimination language, are not lost in translation. To accomplish this, Gephardt said the chiropractic profession must maintain its relationships with members of Congress - and forge new ones.
"People need to talk to legislators one on one. It's more effective that way," Gephardt maintained. "Make a member of Congress your champion and support them - and they're going to support you."
For more than a year now, Gephardt himself has been a key champion for chiropractic, meeting with members of Congress in support of chiropractic issues and consulting on strategy with ACA and the Chiropractic Summit. To keep the profession informed, he has spoken at summit and COCSA meetings on multiple occasions. To bring Gephardt on board, ACA dug deep into its financial reserves in October 2009 and put significant resources to work so that the profession could have the best opportunity to emerge from the reform process with impressive results.
Accordingly, the Chiropractic Summit - a unified effort by the ACA, ICA, ACC, COCSA, and more than 35 other chiropractic organizations that has spearheaded an aggressive patient-centered campaign to protect the broad interests of the profession and the millions of patients its serves - unanimously supports CHAMP (the Chiropractic Healthcare Advocacy and Mobilization Project), which funds this vital enhancement. Doctors of chiropractic nationwide are urged to join the Chiropractic Summit in support of CHAMP by making a contribution (non-deductible for tax purposes) online at www.chirochamp.org or by sending a check to: CHAMP, 1701 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209.
John Falardeau is the ACA senior vice president for public policy and advocacy. He can be contacted at