The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.
1017, the "Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act," tonight, putting
America's veterans one step closer to gaining access to chiropractic care at
all major Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers. The bill was
approved 365:6. †
H.R. 1017 requires the VA to have doctors of
chiropractic on staff at no fewer than 75 major VA medical centers before the
end of 2011 and for all major VA medical centers to have a doctor of
chiropractic on staff before the end of 2013. There are nearly 160 VA treatment
facilities nationwide. Currently, the VA provides chiropractic care at 32
treatment facilities across the country.†
The bill comes after a recent VA report, "Analysis
of VA Health Care Utilization Among Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veterans," from Feb 2010 which cites "diseases of
Musculoskeletal System/Connective System," such as back pain, as the number one
ailment of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans accessing VA treatment.†
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA)
believes that the inclusion of chiropractic care in the VA health care system
would speed the recovery of many of the veterans returning from current
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chiropractic care has been proven to be a
cost-effective and beneficial treatment option. In fact, a 2010 study published
in Clinical Rehabilitation
found that spinal manipulation provided better short and long-term functional
improvement and more pain relief in follow-up assessments than other
physiotherapy interventions. Furthermore, a 2003 study published in the medical
journal Spine found
that manual manipulation provides better short-term relief of chronic spinal pain
than a variety of medications.
House VA Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA), a
strong supporter of extending chiropractic care benefits to military retirees
and active-duty personnel, introduced the legislation. Over the years, Rep.
Filner has worked closely with ACA in securing support for a number of
pro-chiropractic measures. †Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME), Ranking Member
Steve Buyer (R-IN) and Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS) also deserve recognition for
their support of this legislation.
"For too long, veterans have been denied access to
the chiropractic care that they want, need and deserve through the VA," said
ACA President Rick McMichael, DC. "I am proud that ACA has worked closely with
our congressional allies, such as Rep. Filner, on behalf of our nation's heroes
and in support of this important bill."
Prior to congressional intervention over the past
decade, no doctors of chiropractic served on the staff of any VA treatment
facility. The availability of chiropractic care for eligible veterans was limited
to VA "referrals" to doctors of chiropractic serving in private practice
outside of the VA system. Such referrals were so rare that chiropractic care
was essentially non-existent within the VA system.
"I am especially proud that the member institutions
that comprise the Association of Chiropractic Colleges will play a pivotal role
in preparing the next generation of doctors of chiropractic to serve our
military veterans throughout the United States and overseas," said Frank J.
Nicchi, DC, MS, President of the Association of Chiropractic Colleges. "This
legislation will assist in making that possible."
In the U.S. Senate, a companion bill (S1204) has
been introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who is a member of the Senate VA
Committee. This legislation would also expand access to chiropractic care
within the VA system.
The American Chiropractic Association, based in
Arlington, Va., is the largest professional association in the United States
representing doctors of chiropractic. ACA promotes the highest standards of
ethics and patient care, contributing to the health and well-being of millions
of chiropractic patients.