Complementary & Alternative Health Update: October 2, 2013

Complementary & Alternative Health:

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) often referred to as Obamacare was launched officially on October 1. While many are no fans of ACA, there were several provisions that were specifically included by friend to the complementary and alternative health community, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).

New Definition of Healthcare Workforce: P.L. 111–148, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provided clear instruction to expand access to licensed integrative health practitioners in Section 5101, “Health care workforce” is now defined under the law as to “include all health care providers with direct patient care and support responsibilities, such as physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners…doctors of chiropractic…licensed complementary and alternative medicine providers, integrative health practitioners …and any other health professional that the Comptroller General of the United States determines appropriate. Health professionals are defined in the law now as “dentists, dental hygienists, primary care providers, specialty physicians, nurses…doctors of chiropractic…licensed complementary and alternative medicine providers…and integrative health practitioners; national representatives of health professionals;…representatives of schools of medicine, osteopathy, …chiropractic… representatives of public and private teaching hospitals, and ambulatory health facilities, including Federal medical facilities; and …any other health professional the Comptroller General of the United States determines appropriate.”

Non-Discrimination Language Included: The definitions in Section 5101 are important because of Section 2706 the non-discrimination language: “A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall not discriminate with respect to participation under the plan or coverage against any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider’s license or certification under applicable State law.” (It is important to note that this non-discrimination language does not require insurance coverage of complementary and alternative therapies, but does call for access for a therapy covered in a scope of practice by a licensed complementary provider if that therapy is already included in the insurance coverage. An example of this would be requesting access to a chiropractor for treatment for low back pain rather than a referral to a physical therapist.

Supporting the philosophy behind non-discrimination does not automatically indicate one is supportive of mandatory licensure or registration of currently non-licensed CAM providers at the state level. Sunshine Health Freedom Foundation’s state activities focus on preserving and promoting health freedom through safe harbor and consumer rights to access legislation and policies. To learn more about these, please visit the state pages at

AMA Flexes its Muscles Through Representative Harry (R-MD): The American Medical Association (AMA) and other physician trade associations has convinced physician legislator, Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) to introduced H.R. 2817, the “Protect Patient Access to Quality Health Professionals Act of 2013” which would remove the non-discrimination language (i.e. Section 2706) from the law. The AMA has suggesting that Section 2706 would undermine the role of states in regulating scopes of practice. This is not what the law does. Instead, it simply identifies and removes a barrier that has existed for too long in the insurance industry. Non-discrimination is fundamental to health freedom.

There are many things wrong with the ACA law, most importantly the requirement that Americans be forced to maintain a specific level of insurance or face the leveraging of penalties managed by the IRS. 2706 was one of the bright spots of the law and should remain in the law.

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