ACA Section 5101: Integrative Care in Community Health
Section 5101 provides for a new national healthcare workforce to enter the mainstream healthcare delivery system. This workforce is identified as licensed complementary and alternative medicine providers (CAM) and integrative health practitioners. One of the care delivery centers where this workforce would be destined to practice is the Community Health Center.
The intent of this provision of the ACA is to level the playing field. The big idea is to incorporate those integrative therapeutic disciplines that are safe, cost effective and therapeutically efficacious into mainstream healthcare delivery so as to engage the people in substantive self-efficacy to increase health promotion and prevention.
This is the order of the day in the European Union. The US lags behind in implementation, however, recent studies quoted by Bill Reddy, L.Ac., a board member of the IHPC, noted that in the US, all CAM use by adults in the US population has grown from 36% in 2002 to as high as 42% today.
Integrative healthcare treatment is associated with significant increases in quality of life, cost savings and increased patient compliance. One study from a Dutch healthcare insurer demonstrated that patients of GP’s who have had additional training in CAM therapies (anthroposophic medicine, homeopathy or acupuncture) had up to 30% lower healthcare costs than patients treated by those without CAM training.
Given the directive of Section 5101 to deploy these integrative health providers into the workforce, Community Health Centers seem the perfect place to begin. According to a recently released 2012 Profile on Community Health Centers by The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation:
As health insurance coverage expands under the ACA and the demand for primary care increases, the role of health centers is likely to increase, and the ACA’s large investment in the health center program provides new resources to help meet growing needs.
Medicaid now accounts for close to 40% of health center revenues. With the trend of telemedicine parity legislation sweeping the country, Medicaid will cover telehealth visits without requiring an in-office encounter. This is, indeed, the perfect opportunity for choice and access to integrative healthcare through Community Health Centers. Ease of access to their doctor for those people with transportation challenges, movement disorders, complex chronic conditions and financial challenges can now make possible early intervention, patient education and information prescriptions. Such advances will facilitate the goal of patient-centric, collaborative care set forth in the ACA. Integrative health practitioners have the diversity of disciplines necessary to meet these objectives.
Community Health Centers are poised to be the disruptive innovator in integrative healthcare. We must mobilize the integrative healthcare workforce. Policy implementation is an imperative of the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium.
This article is reproduced from Dr. Nancy Gahles’ blog, “Ask Dr. Nancy.” Nancy is an at-large member of the IHPC Board of Directors and is an advocate for bringing safe and affordable integrative healthcare services into community health centers.