On May 19 and June 18, IHPC submitted written testimony to the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittees in support of funding programs important to the integrative health community under the subcommittees’ jurisdiction. Specifically, IHPC called on these vital congressional subcommittees to support funding for the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as the NIH, and the Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) program within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). In addition, IHPC’s testimony asks Congress to support the inclusion of report language accompanying the bill, urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement recommendations issued by the HHS Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force. The complete Senate testimony, which mirrors the House testimony which was submitted officially by Dr. Margaret Erickson, IHPC Co-Chair, is posted at: IHPC Senate Labor HHS Education 6-21 Testimony
On June 29, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee released its version of a report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2022 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. The report, which was to be officially approved and released after the Committee passes or “marks up” the underlying bill on June 30, includes language endorsed by IHPC. The language, which was submitted by Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, praises the Department of Veterans Affairs Whole Health System (WHS) and urges the Department to use funding in the bill to expand the WHS to all VA facilities. The report goes on to state that the Committee provided $10 million more than the Administration requested for WHS to expand this successful program. Note that it doesn’t say “to all VA facilities,” so the funds can be used to expand the program, more generally.
The actual language, as it appears in the report, is below. IHPC is very grateful to Congressman Ryan and his staff for their support and leadership and for the grassroots action that IHPC members took to encourage its inclusion. The bill and its accompanying report will now go through additional legislative steps before becoming law; however, this step is very encouraging.
WHOLE HEALTH INITIATIVE
Traditionally, Veteran medical providers have focused on the physical symptoms of Veterans, zeroing in on their diseases and ailments. However, VA is continuing to work to expand this focus by incorporating a whole health model of care, which is a holistic look at the many areas of life that can affect a Veteran’s health including their work environment, relationships, diet, sleep patterns, and more. Whole Health is an approach to healthcare that empowers and enables the Veteran to take charge of their health and well-being and live their life to the fullest. The Committee is extremely pleased with the Whole Health model of care and includes $83,600,000 in the bill, which is $10,000,000 above the request, to continue to implement and expand Whole Health to all VA facilities.
Continued Support and Expansion for Whole Health. – Recent data about the Whole Health System reveals participation increased more than 140 percent between 2017 and 2019, resulting in a 24 percent drop in total healthcare costs among the participating Veterans. Additionally, a recent survey found that 97 percent of Veterans are interested in using Whole Health. The Committee is pleased by this evidence that points to the ability of the Whole Health System to deliver care efficiently and effectively to our nation’s Veterans, and urges VA to continue supporting the program and to expand it further in fiscal year 2022.