The Time is Now! Integrative Health & Wellness Takes Center Stage on Capitol Hill

Any service that is on track to consume 40 percent of the gross national product of the world’s largest economy by the year 2050 cannot be ignored and that service is US healthcare. The reason that IHPC encouraged House of Representative members Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Jared Polis (D-CO) to form the bipartisan Congressional Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus was explicitly to ensure that Integrative Health has an authoritative voice at the table with people making decisions about policy, legislation and regulations. Both Members Coffman and Polis also belong to the congressional Problem Solvers Caucus working to craft bipartisan healthcare solutions.

They know that when it comes to costly, chronic diseases, and crises like the opioid epidemic, integrative health approaches can offer improved outcomes with lower costs. In fact, a just released study today in JAMAshows there is no time to wait. The study revealed sad and striking numbers, “all deaths attributable to opioids increased 292% (from 0.4% to 1.5%) between 2001 and 2016, resulting in approximately 1.68 million person-years of life lost in 2016 alone.” Sadly, 20% of those deaths were adults age 24-35, a demographic that should be celebrating the future, not losing their lives to drug overdoses.

While there is high skepticism and often cynicism as to what Congress can accomplish in the current highly partisan and polarized environment, there are committed bi-partisan Members working to make a difference. What Congress does matters to more Americans than you might think! Congressional action has direct impact on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Marketplace, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense health services. Millions of Americans are impacted by these services, and the private insurer and health services market usually follow their lead.

The Capitol Hill Caucus briefing on March 15, focused on integrative pain care and the opioid crisis, generated significant interest and requests for education and information from more than 30 Congressional offices (thank you to IHPC member AANP who included Caucus info in their Lobby Day). IHPC has continued to meet with legislators and their staff. On April 9, along with Board Member and AIPM Partner for Health Bob Twillman, PhD and interim Executive Director Susan Haeger, I met with both new Members and many interested in joining the Caucus. The whirlwind day across multiple buildings and offices confirmed high enthusiasm and interest in transforming healthcare to focus on prevention, wellness and well-being for health creation.

There is a sea change in the landscape for health and healthcare. Large systems of care are embracing integrative health and turning attention to how communities and states can promote health and wellness, as well as encourage more attention to disease prevention. In pain care and especially in the opioid crisis – non-pharmacological and integrative approaches are being sought out. The time is now for communicating with, connecting and catalyzing legislators to champion this shift so that Integrative Health and Wellness can take center stage in health and healthcare in America.

If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to enlist your elected officials to join the caucus. Constituent phone calls are most effective. Don’t hesitate! Click here for more information to make your call.

In Good Health,

Leonard A. Wisneski, MD
Chair, Integrative Health Policy Consortium

Video Highlights from Caucus Briefing on Capitol Hill
In March, the inaugural Health and Wellness Caucus took place in Washington DC. The bipartisan efforts of Reps. Jared Polis (D) and Mike Coffman (R) with the support of IHPC, were met with great success. We’ve collected the various presentations from the caucus speakers. Click on the image to the right to access all the videos. Click on the titles below to listen to the highlighted speakers:


1.  Introduction by Len Wisneski, MD, IHPC Board of Directors Chair

2.  Opening Remarks from Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Jared Polis (D) and Mike Coffman (R)

3.  Ben Kligler, MD, MPH presents a segment on integrative practices within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

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New Study: Active Integrative Protocols for Pain Management
In this new study, researchers show that when patients are educated in integrative-care solutions, they are most likely to elect an active complementary pain management program. Study provided by our partners at Today’s Practitioner.


Read More Here

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