fighting in the
I’ve attended many important events in our profession, including both Centennial Celebrations (Washington DC and Davenport), many ACC-RAC, NCLC, and WFC conferences, as well as the world premiere of the movie, Doctored.
I make this effort to attend because these occasions mark historic events that may change the course of our profession. Certainly at the lead in this charge is the American Chiropractic Association that recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary at our capital. After 50 years battling the AMA, it was time to celebrate the many victories we’ve had although we still find ourselves in battle over Section 2706 and the AMA’s attempt to repeal it with its Resolution 241. Indeed, will the medical war ever end?
This conference began with a snow storm that was feared to be among the worse ever to hit our nation’s capital. My flight from Atlanta was cancelled, forcing me to fly through Chicago the next day to reach Washington. Although Chicago was blanketed with snow, Capitol Hill was clear, cold, windy, but without one snowflake.
I arrived Thursday afternoon after a 5-hour flight, missing the pre-lobbying topics discussed at the morning session. I also missed the speeches by our ACA leaders and friendly Congressmen to rally our troops before descending upon the hill with our Talking Points in hand. The only thing missing were hundreds of student activists picketing Capitol Hill with placards reading, “Chiropractors for Equality”, “AMA Get Off Our Backs,” and “Support Section 2706.” Whatever happened to the good ole days at Berkeley?
Nonetheless, I visited the offices of Representative Scott Austin and Senator Johnny Isakson to discuss with their military legislative assistants about my problems with the local Robins AFB as well as the Dublin VA hospital. As expected, these aides had little knowledge about my profession, patient problems (even though I had sent detailed letters about these problems to both offices), nor how RAFB still discriminates against DCs in open contempt of Congress. Apparently the chiropractic issue in the military and VA programs is a very low priority in these offices.
Fortunately, both aides were aware of Steven Brill’s expose in the recent TIME magazine, Bitter Pill, so I latched on to this common point to discuss the lack of free enterprise in spine healthcare (Brill’s main point to lower costs), the paradigm shift in spine care from drugs, shots, and surgery to hands-on care like CAM (chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage), and the millions of patients who would be helped and the billions of dollars that would be saved. At this point the aide’s minds began to wander, so I chose another tactic to gain their attention.
Perhaps the most important point I made to each aide, evident by their visceral reactions, dealt with the complete lack of Informed Consent that is legally supposed to discuss alternatives and options with every patient in the military health services, workers’ comp, as well as in the VA. This is rarely, if ever, done to inform spine patients. Instead, patients are typically told chiro care is not covered (a lie) or that SMT causes strokes. Ugh.
As every DC has experienced, patients seeking our care are forced to jump thru hoops to get to us, then we are handcuffed with 6 office visits to correct what has taken years to develop. No wonder our vets hate the VA hospital system and the active military are pissed off they have to pay out of their pockets.
Perhaps the most egregious policy used by a vitriolic medical bureaucrasy in the military, VA, and among civilian servants on base happens when they refuse to have surgery. All too often I encounter patients who were sold a ticket on the medical railroad–drugs, shots, MRIs, leading to the inevitable spine fusion for a “bad disc.” When some refuse, seeking chiro care instead, they are told if they refuse surgery, they will be considered a “malingerer” and kicked out of the military or lose their civilian jobs on base.
While both office aides were polite while listening to my rant for equality in healthcare for patients and practitioners, after ten minutes I could see my welcome was over, so we exchanged cards and promised to stay in touch. At least my conscious was clear that I had contributed intellectually if not monetarily to my profession’s lobbying effort.
Thursday night’s Gala Celebration was the main reason I made the arduous trip in the first place. The following Benediction was given by Kelli Pearson that symbolilzed beautifully our the creed of our profession.
Lord, we thank you for the opportunity to be your servants as Doctors of Chiropractic. We ask your blessings on the this great profession and our organization, the ACA, that has withstood five decades of challenge; and we look forward to the tremendous progress we full confident the future will bring. We ask your blessings for the people we serve, the profession we love and the determination to do your work through our individual efforts. Lord we thank you for the many joys you have provided us, the opportunities to serve humanity through our hands, but Lord even without these blessings, we would thank you for the privilege of being thankful.
We ask this in your name.
After the award winners were announced, the keynote speaker, Chuck Todd of MSNBC, a political insider shared his views of current events. He is an old friend of John Gentile and gave an insights into politics on Capitol Hill, a sobering talk although interesting. What a way to kill a buzz, ya folla?
Undoubtedly the most enjoyable aspect of the night was the camaraderie of the hundreds of ACA members who shared in this festive occasion. Like a military ball, this event recognized fallen leaders from the past, shared war stories from the present, and gave us hope there will be a brighter future if we keep our faith and persistence.
The only thing missing was a dance band!
Enjoy the following slide show.