Planned Em­pow­er­ment of DCs, NDs, Acupunc­tur­ists, and Mas­sage Ther­a­pists

Alternative Medicine - - The Big Picture -

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

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