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Integrative Healthcare Reaches a Tipping Point

The benefits of the “whole person” orientation toward healing have been evident for many years now. However, mainstream healthcare in America has not embraced the concept; nor have they included it in hospitals, medical doctors’ care plans, or insurance reimbursement models.

Consumers, however, have consistently demanded access to disciplines “other than” traditional medicine. Those are often referred to as Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or CAM(CAM). The National Institute of Health (NIH) has a research arm called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) funded by Congress to study these approaches as to efficacy, cost savings and effectiveness.

CAM may be about to go mainstream however, because of Section 2706 of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA offers an unparalleled opportunity to incorporate integrative healthcare practitioners into the payer system and make patient access to those practitioners across the country a reality.

What is Sec. 2706? It prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against healthcare providers relative to their participation and coverage in health plans, thereby encouraging full utilization of healthcare providers and reduction in costs for patient care. In other words, CAM treatment gets put on a more level playing field relative to more “traditional” health care.

As patients began to divulge to their doctors that they were taking nutritional supplements, using chiropractic and acupuncture as alternatives for back pain, or consulting homeopathic practitioners for relief of chronic pain, medical doctors began, slowly, to listen. In some cases, the primary care physician was willing to work with the “other” practitioner. Thus began the new nomenclature: integrative healthcare.

The term implies collaboration on patient-centric care and inclusivity of those disciplines which take the whole person and their individuality into account. It banishes the concept that anything other than “traditional” medicine must be relegated to complementary or “alternative” status. And it reminds us that all that heals is not medicine.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference, writes, “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” Integrative healthcare has reached that magic moment.

Gladwell adds, “If you want to bring a fundamental change in people’s beliefs and behavior… you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured.” At the request of legislators who support integrative healthcare and who need an organization that represents the consensus voice of the integrative healthcare communities, the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) was formed.

IHPC is a broad coalition of healthcare professionals, patients and organizations driving public policy to ensure all Americans have access to safe, high quality integrative healthcare. IHPC’s base is the organizations and educational institutions representing the 375,000 licensed, whole-person oriented integrative healthcare disciplines.

The magic moment for integrative healthcare came about through a strategic 2013 campaign launched by IHPC to promote a state-by-state adoption of Sec. 2706 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Hon. Deborah Senn, JD, Washington State’s former Insurance Commissioner, is representing IHPC’s regulated CAM and IHPC practitioner community and, by extension, patients and consumers of healthcare, in a strategically constructed state-by-state plan of action.

IHPC is working with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to clarify the rule so that small businesses can design a wellness program which best suits their needs while staying true to the rules of the ACA mandate. If the rule is implemented correctly, small businesses will benefit from the choice and access to safe, cost reducing, effective and sustainable healthcare, both in the state insurance exchanges and in-house. 2706 and its implementation will be applicable to the reasonable design of corporate wellness programs under the ACA mandate. IHPC is working with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to further define the rule so that it is easy for small businesses to design a wellness program unique to their needs, budgetary considerations and applicability to the rules of the mandate. Dr. Nancy Gahles, DC, CCH, RSHom (NA) is spearheading this effort.

IHPC will be a national clearinghouse and information channel for its membership base and integrative healthcare community. Grassroots advocacy efforts targeting both patients and practitioners are currently in play. IHPC will also engage the medical homes and coding reimbursement aspect of the 2706 implementation.

The Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium welcomes people who have talents, skills and resources to share to ensure that the 2013 campaign to implement non-discrimination in our healthcare system is effective AND that it “spreads like wildfire!”

Legislators, insurance companies, and Americans who suffer needlessly due to lack of choice and access to safe, effective, and cost-saving integrative healthcare, can all help ensure that Americans get the best healthcare possible. All they have to do is speak up. – friends and families who suffer needlessly due to lack of choice and access to safe, effective and cost saving integrative healthcare.

For more information, please contact:

Alyssa Wostrel, Executive Director, IHPC or 202-505-IHPC (ext. 4472)

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