While Congress spent much of 2018 locked in a stalemate, a key integrative health and wellness legislative effort gained traction and was moved to enactment, which created a significant opportunity for 2019. HR6, the SUPPORT Patients and Communities Act (PL 115-271), touted by mainstream media as “the opioid package,” was signed into law on October 28, 2018 and set up the integrative health community as stakeholders in a series of government studies.
The anticipated outcomes will shape new integrative models of care for people who suffer from pain and addiction to include a variety of treatment options and therefore, reduce both the amounts of opioids being prescribed and the number of people suffering from substance-use disorders.
HR6 was an unusually bipartisan effort on the part of the 115th Congress, answering the call of an immediate crisis that has brought what seems to be a rare example of cooperation between Republican and Democratic constituencies. Upcoming studies will identify barriers of access to nonpharmacologic treatment options and define appropriations for demonstration programs to state acute care and emergency room settings. These actions will determine effective models of care for pain management that are medically-assisted, nonpharmacologic and incorporate multiple modalities.
Many members of the Congressional Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus (IWHC) contributed directly to language that was enacted in HR6. IHPC will continue to help build out this Caucus as the 116th Congress begins their duties following the Democrats taking the House gavel on January 3, 2019. Priorities for the upcoming members of Congress will continue in this arena, with an effort to provide appropriations for coverage and reimbursement for integrative treatment options not currently covered.
The legislative environment in the states also mimicked this trend of efforts to combat the opioid crisis with numerous states passing legislation that would either provide coverage for integrative treatment options or fund pilot programs to study the issues. As the 2019 legislative season unfolds, the states will begin to apply for available funding to participate in the initial fifteen state demonstration programs to share data regarding models of care.
IHPC and their Partners for Health played instrumental roles in building out the new IHW Caucus, helping shape language surrounding pain management, expansion of providers who can prescribe medically assisted treatments and the study and implementation of nonpharmacologic treatment options. These efforts will continue and grow through state and federal initiatives as we move forward in 2019.
The Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC) is a unique interprofessional federation of organizations focused on health creation—the proactive promotion of and focus on prevention, wellness, and well- being. As the policy and advocacy voice of integrative health and wellness professionals, IHPC has achieved groundbreaking success toward the transformation of health and healthcare delivery, even as the prevailing paradigm of healthcare remains entrenched in a disease-based philosophy.
IHPC–a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization—advocates 1) for better access by individuals to their choice of licensed or certified providers within a pluralistic healthcare system, 2) for non-discrimination in payer coverage of all licensed providers within their scope of practice, and 3) for collaborative efforts among healthcare providers and other stakeholders to take a whole-person healthcare-delivery approach to the individual, which includes consideration of the social, cultural, economic, and environmental determinants of health.