ACA House of Delegates: Chiropractic Profession Qualified to Fill the Gaps in Primary Health Care
ACA’s governing body approves policies and charts progress at its annual meeting
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) underscored its position that doctors of chiropractic are qualified and ready to help address primary health care provider shortages in the United States with a resolution passed by its delegates during their recent annual meeting, held Sept. 28-Oct. 2 in Newport, R.I. The resolution was one of several passed by the House of Delegates (HOD), which also received progress reports on a variety of association initiatives.
This year, for the first time, ACA partnered with state associations in the region to host its annual meeting. The American Chiropractic Association and Northeast Chiropractic Council (NECC) Fall Conference drew hundreds of doctors of chiropractic, who were treated to a selection of programs, educational seminars and networking opportunities, as well as exhibits featuring a wide variety of chiropractic products and services.
In the policy on primary care—which dovetails with ACA’s efforts to expand the role of DCs in health care reform initiatives—delegates outlined the educational qualifications, skills and experience of DCs that equip them to help fill gaps in primary care services in the United States. The policy concludes, “Chiropractic physicians/doctors of chiropractic have pioneered conservative healthcare and have been the leading provider of these services, which are safe and effective. Chiropractic healthcare enjoys high patient satisfaction and outcomes that may control costs, enhance the primary care setting and the health of the America people.”
ACA delegates also approved resolutions on:
- Stages of Care – the policy approves definitions for management of acute conditions, management of chronic recurrent conditions and management of wellness.
- Hygienic Recommendations – the policy encourages DCs to stay informed about hygiene issues so that they can create a safer environment for their patients and staff. It refers DCs to sources for information on the subject, including CDC, state and local boards of health, state boards of chiropractic, journal articles, OSHA and ACA.
- Ionic Footbaths – the policy discourages DCs from promoting the detoxification benefits of ionic footbaths.
The prospect of new opportunities to expand access to chiropractic care, made possible by pro-chiropractic provisions in the health care reform bill passed in March, was central to many discussions at the conference. Former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, who has been working with ACA on health care reform issues, made a special appearance at a panel discussion, which also included ACA President Rick McMichael, DC; ACC President Frank Nicchi, DC; COCSA President Jeffrey Fedorko, DC; and moderated by Chiropractic Summit Chairman Lewis Bazakos, DC.
Gephardt remarked how the chiropractic profession handled itself well during the health care reform debate, making key contacts with members of Congress, speaking with one voice through the Chiropractic Summit and reaching 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. “That’s huge.”
Another panel discussion during the HOD/NECC meeting focused on the findings of the Chiropractic Medicare Demonstration Program and the next steps that ACA will take as part of its continuing efforts to expand covered services for chiropractic patients under Medicare. The results of the pilot project, released earlier this year, are being analyzed by an ACA task force and will eventually be discussed in depth with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Panel members included Ritch Miller, DC, ACA Medicare Committee chairman; Susan McClelland, an advisor to the Medicare Committee; John Falardeau, ACA vice president of government relations; Kara Murray, ACA director of federal and regulatory affairs; and Christine Goertz, DC, a research advisor to ACA who was recently appointed to the board of the newly created Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).
During its HOD meeting, ACA also approved the induction of four states—Alaska, Connecticut, New York and Indiana—into its State Affiliation Program. This new initiative is designed to strengthen ties between ACA and state chiropractic associations, improve communication and working relationships and make ACA and state associations better equipped to address mutual issues.