(A full report of this briefing on Capitol Hill is in Janet Kahn’s report to The Integrator Blog, linked at the end of this page.)
IHPC Brings 2706, CAHCIM (now ACIMH) and Allina Health to a Congressional Briefing on “Easing the US Healthcare Crisis: The Role of Integrative Health Care”
On April 10, 2014, key staffers for numerous members of the US House of Representatives and US Senate were treated to unusual fare at a briefing entitled “Easing the US Healthcare Crisis: The Role of Integrative Health Care.” Staff for some 17 US Senators and seven members of the House, together with representatives from ten outside organizations were among the roughly 70% of attendees who signed-in. Among those in attendance were staff members for the powerful US Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), as well as counterparts from Appropriations and the Special Committee on Aging.
Janet Kahn, PhD, who organized the session on behalf of the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC), shared with the Integrator that the audience “was attentive throughout the 70+ minutes of presentation – questions were thoughtful” and that “the Senate Q&A in particular went into some depth on 2706” – Non-Discrimination in Health Care. Kahn’s report continues:
Margaret Chesney, PhD: CAHCIM chair: I think the presentations built well. I was the set-up person, using material from the IOM Report “Shorter Lives, Poorer Health” to identify what the crisis is; distinguish between the contributions of prevention and those of health promotion/health creation; also the needed synergy between integrative health care and integrative health policy. Margaret Chesney, PhD, chair of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine (CAHCIM) and integrative medicine leader at UCSF Osher Center, explained IM/IHC and used heart disease exquisitely to illustrate the problem, and the difference between usual care and integrative care. She illustrated the growth of IM/IHC through the increase from 8 to 57 centers in CAHCIM between 1999 and today; and the comparable growth in number of hospitals offering integrative healthcare services. She offered good cost data, including Ornish’s work on both heart disease and prostate cancer – the latter showing telomere growth which is hugely important.
Courtney Baechler, MD, MS, a cardiologist, and Chief Wellness Officer & Vice President, Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, Allina Health, presented on Allina’s growth from 2003-present. She gave the audience a good picture of the size and complexity of the Allina system; the decision to move from a single site – the Penny George Institute of Health and Healing – to ultimately seeking to integrate all 13 hospitals. The range of things Allina is doing – in-patient and outpatient, community-based programs, etc. is impressive – as is their data. Across these presentations people saw examples of IM/IHC in relation to chronic pain, heart disease, cancer, spinal fusion, and more. And the problem identified in the first presentation – that the US has been getting a horrible return on investment when it comes to health care $$ spent, was well-answered with a look at Allina’s and Ornish’s cost data.
Len Wisneski, MD, IHPC chair and faculty member at Georgetown University, George Washington University and University of Colorado, capped the presentations by focusing on the common sense of IHC, the importance of 2706 and use of the full healthcare workforce, importance of supporting the two active bills bringing IHC into the VA and DOD, and on IMPriME and the importance of training physicians for these times and this kind of team work, especially knowing when to refer to other kinds of providers.”
Comment: Kudos to the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium for the time, energy and expense of organizing this meeting, and to the contributions of Drs. Chesney and Baechler and their respective organizations. For all the talk of health reform and “transforming” the medical industry toward health, very few in this community ever set foot in the nation’s Capitol where the levers that make new directions possible get pulled. Who knows which staffer in IHPC’s briefing room might add just the right language in a bill? Notably, Kahn reports that she and Wisneski also pointed out to the staffers that as federal employees, they may be among the first Americans to benefit from Section 2706, as Blue Cross Blue Shield included in their pamphlet to federal employee plan participants that “we now cover any licensed medical practitioner for covered services performed within the scope of that license, as required by Section 2706(a) of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA).”
See the original article at The Integrator Blog (scroll down to the second page).