By Mary Jo Hoeksema
With the arrival of the Biden Administration and 117th Congress, the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC) has been presented with new opportunities to engage with policymakers in the Federal government and on Capitol Hill.
The work began in December 2020, when IHPC Co-Chair Dr. Margaret Erickson sent President Biden’s transition team a letter expressing some of IHPC’s primary policy priorities. Among other things, the letter urged the new Administration to prioritize implementation of recommendations stipulated in the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force Report of 2019. In addition, the letter asked the new Administration to expand the delivery of integrative health services through Federally Qualified Health Centers, and to extend Medicare and Medicaid coverage of integrative health services. The letter was well received by the transition team and led to requests for additional information. IHPC hopes this communication portends a productive dialogue with members of the new Biden Administration.
Upon confirmation of their respective positions, IHPC also sent letters to the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra. The letters congratulated these officials and informed them of what IHPC is and what IHPC’s priorities are with respect to each of their departments’ portfolios.
On Capitol Hill, IHPC resumed its work with the co-chairs of the Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus, Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN), to reinstate and expand the caucus. Further, IHPC worked with the Caucus co-chairs and Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), a major proponent of integrative health and senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, to communicate the consortium’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 funding and policy priorities. Ideally, our efforts will lead to the inclusion of language in several FY 2022 appropriations reports expressing support for the Whole Health System in the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health. IHPC also collaborated with other partner organizations on appropriations report language that could advance the consortium’s interests regarding pain management. The outcome of these initiatives will not be known, however, until Congress considers its versions of the FY 2022 appropriations bills in the late spring or early summer. IHPC will share information about these bills as they proceed through the legislative process.
IHPC is also monitoring numerous legislative proposals addressing topics such as COVID relief and social determinants of health. 2021 promises to be a busy year on Capitol Hill for IHPC!