Snubbed Again


Snubbed Again



 “Every voice has to be heard,” said President Obama at the White House forum on healthcare reform yesterday. “Every idea must be considered…The status quo is the one option that is not on the table.”[1]


Although his challenge sounds positive, the fact that the third-largest healthcare profession was not invited to this health summit also speaks volumes. Once again it seems our political friends have snubbed the lowly chiropractors when it comes to policymaking.


Must we wait our turn in line as we did with Medicare, hoping later to ask after the reform package is done, “Please sir, can we have some more?” like Oliver Twist?


President Obama issued a supportive news release during his campaign endorsing chiropractic’s full inclusion into possible healthcare reform measures in his letter of October 13, 2008:

“As I have said, I believe steps should be taken to acknowledge the important care provided by doctors of chiropractic. We need to knock down unreasonable barriers of access and discriminatory insurance coverage so Americans in need of quality chiropractic care can access it without difficulty. We need to expand the range of chiropractic services covered by Medicare, facilitate integration of doctors of chiropractic into the health care systems of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, and allow commission of doctors of chiropractic as officers in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. And again, under my health care plan, many, if not all, chiropractic services would be included in the benefit package offered in the public plan.”


Now is the time to hold his feet to the fire of campaign promises. Will we wait with our hands clasped on our laps waiting quietly, not wanting to make waves, and hoping Obama’s administration comes asking for our words of wisdom?


Or will we become proactive and go forward with news releases touting the cost reduction that the chiropractic profession can contribute? Indeed, of the nearly $100 billion spent on back pain, I daresay if DCs were POE for all spine musculoskeletal disorders, we could save tens of billions of dollars.


Recall the DoD’s Demonstration Project for Chiropractic suggested as much as $26 million and 199,000 lost work days could be saved if chiropractic care were included system-wide in the military healthcare system. Extrapolating this to the entire US population and the savings will be enormous, but no one but us will be telling the media or the public about this potential savings of money, lost work days, and patient suffering.


Indeed, the AMA and HMOs want this reform effort to wither on the vine too. The medical cartel has no interest in parity among providers or patient choice as we know only too well.


Comparative cost studies by AMI[2] and ASH[3] have shown that chiropractic care is cost and clinically effective compared to medical methods of drugs, shots and surgery. How many more studies to we need to make our point?


Medical experts like Deyo, Bigos, Hadler, Waddell, Brox, Fairbank, Carey, Goodley, Cherkin, Haldeman, Manga, are but a few of the growing voices within the research community that cry out there are excessive narcotics, imaging, shots and surgeries leaving behind a wake of addictions, depression, lost work days, and disability.


The evidence today is clear that chiropractic care is a “proven treatment” as the original AHCPR stated and as 17 international guidelines now recommend, including the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society.


The evidence is clear, the critics are growing, the chiropractors stand ready, but until the public hears this, we will continue to be ignored. It’s time for the ACA, ACC, and WFC to come forth with strong news releases demanding our voice to be heard.


If Obama’s people choose to ignore us as they obviously have, let’s circumvent them and go straight to the public and media, which is something we should have done years ago. This is no time to be nice and hold our tongue.


I still recall with disbelief the misguided logic of the ACA Board of Governors last year when it refused to issue a statement when the AMA HOD issued an apology to its black members.[4] It was a golden opportunity for the ACA to illuminate on the AMA’s propaganda campaign to destroy the chiropractic profession’s reputation and to watch us “wither on the vine” as their Committee on Quackery stated.


Inexplicably, the ACA’s leadership misconstrued my resolution calling for an apology to the chiropractic profession from the AMA while it was apologizing to its black members, suggesting “it did not seem politically wise to suggest that the chiropractic profession had been treated worse that blacks were treated under Jim Crow.  Under those circumstances, the free media coverage would not be favorable,” according to Kevin Corcoran, ACA EVP.[5]

Mr. Corcoran was alluding to my comment that “While black MDs were forced to sit in the back of the medical bus, chiropractors were thrown under the bus.”


In my defense, I never said DCs were treated worse than black field hands by Jim Crow as he suggested. Certainly DCs were not sold as slaves, but it’s obvious that we DCs were treated worse than black MDs by Jim Crow, MD. It was a clever equivalence that the ACA board simply missed, but one that certainly would have caught the attention of the press and public.


Plus, unlike black MDs who were merely isolated, chiropractors were not only segregated, but their reputations were ruined by the AMA’s illegal boycott. Lest we forget that DCs were jailed over 15,000 times in the first half of the 20th century?


This was a golden opportunity to make this point to the public, elucidating on why DCs have a soiled reputation stemming from, as Judge Susan Getzendanner wrote, the AMA’s attempt with a “lengthy, systematic, successful and unlawful boycott” designed to eliminate the profession of chiropractic as a competitor in the United States health care system,[6] but the ACA leadership failed to see this resemblance as if it never happened!  


I only hope on this occasion that the lowest fear by the weakest link does not dominate the group decision that often sabotages proactive decisions. Sitting on our hands being quiet and polite while hoping Obama fulfills his promise to us is a huge risk that we cannot take silently.


If this profession has a proactive leadership, now is the time to act up and to speak out. This is no time to sit back and hope Obama’s plan includes us; we must fight for inclusion and the only way now is to shout our message to the public.


With the ACC-RAC convention upcoming next week, every major chiropractic organization will be present. Now is the time to have our leaders come forth with a strong declaration for inclusion. Now is not the time to be nice, afraid to hurt feelings or offending the AMA and the HMOs with their perverse motivation that wastes billions on unnecessary drugs, shots and surgery for spine problems.


Now is the time to state our case clearly and loudly to Obama, Congress, and, most importantly, to the public.


We have a great story to tell, but the question remains: will our leaders tell it?


Our leadership must be in the press and electronic media with this story. If the ACA, ACC or WFC has ever called for a press conference, now is the time to speak out.


Let’s hope this is not another golden opportunity missed.


[1] “Obama opens health summit,” by Liz Sidoti, AP, March 6, 2009.

[2] Richard L. Sarnat, MD, James Winterstein, DC, Jerrilyn A. Cambron, DC, PhD, Clinical Utilization and Cost Outcomes From an Integrative Medicine Independent Physician Association: An Additional 3-Year Update, JMPT, Volume 30, Issue 4, Pages 263-269 (May 2007).

[3] Legorreta, A.P. Treating Back Pain Less Costly With Chiropractic Care, Archives of Internal Medicine, Oct. 11, 2004; vol 164: pp 1985-1992

[4] “AMA apologizes to black doctors for past racism,” by Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer Thu July 10.

[5] Private communication, 11-17-08.

[6] Wilk et al v AMA et al. US District Court Northern District of Illinois, No. 76C3777, Getzendanner J, Judgment dated August 27, 1987