Planned Empowerment of DCs, NDs, Acupuncturists, and Massage Therapists
Congress’ third priority was “health services research.” These types of studies examine things like cost. What will the tab be if these are covered and utilized more? Will there be savings? Additional costs?
Only after these, fourth and fifth among Congress’ priorities, were the NIH’s sweet spots of “basic research” and “clinical trials.” These, notably, were just above their final priority: “other.” I don’t know about you, but being one place above “other” on a funder’s list usually leaves you, at best, first in line at the food bank.
In short, Congress told the powerful agency to look at something it disdained and, while you are at it, flip-flop your priorities.
The politicians’ insult to the leaders of what was then an essentially apartheid system didn’t end there. After saying how, Congress mandated who was to advise them. Of up to 18 members on a National Advisory Council, three would be consumers “representing the interests of individual consumers of complementary and alternative medicine.”
Then the ax fell. Congress required that “at least half ” of the members be “licensed in one or more of the major systems with which the Center is concerned.” Congress reasoned, simply enough, that an agency that previously excluded whole professions would need advice from these on how to best research their value. Does one examine cardiology without cardiologists? Dermatology without dermatologists?
The licensed practitioners who met the mandate were precisely those new to the hospitals and insurers and employers: doctors of chiropractic and naturopathic medicine, practitioners of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, and massage therapists. A fifth profession was potentially the direct-entry, homebirth-oriented midwives.
These professions were new not only in name, but also in approach and philosophy. Most espoused whole person, mind-body, energetic, preventively oriented and health-focused philosophies that were not then, and still aren’t, much recognized as valuable in the research system.
To ensure the mandate was fulfilled, Congress also urged research investment in the schools that educate these practitioners. The mandate included a requirement for “the provision of support for the development and operation of such [research] centers” in “accredited complementary and alternative medicine research and education facilities.”
I grew up the son of a civil engineer and Navy veteran who tutored when I sought to resolve a challenge with