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Do We Need a Federal Office for Integrated Health Care? PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Do We Need a Federal Office for Integrated Health Care?


Take 2 Minutes for a New Vote on a Key Issue:

Do We Need a Federal Office for Integrated Health Care?

1.  Find the poll, upper left side.
2.  Click on your level of agreement or disgreement with this statement:
Creating a federal office for integrated health care is critical for improving health care in the United States.
 
Strong opinion pro or con? Write to for a follow-up article.
Thank-you for participating.



Background

Image Following the August 20 announcement of the differently-worded Integrator poll on this topic, Sheila Quinn, board chair for the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) shared with me her serious concern over the language I chose. Quinn wished that I had formulated the question in a way that more closely reflects the evolved thinking of many leaders. I have since worked with her and IHPC executive director Janet Kahn, PhD, on the language.

Please take a moment to
register your opinion.
____________________

Discussion

For the past half dozen years, the idea of establishing a federal office to oversee the integration of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine into the nation's healthcare system has been discussed in many venues.

Some Arguments in Favor

The idea of establishing such an office was recommended by the White House Commission on CAM Policy (2002) and the National Policy Dialogue to Advance Integrated Health Care (2001). The logic was that we needed to have a high-level office with the authority and visibility necessary to set policy and funding priorities in a way that would bring consistency across diverse federal agencies. Such an approach would help to assure the efficient and coordinated use of all healthcare funding, including funds designated for
education and patient services, and perhaps some forms of research, .

Image
Janet Kahn, PhD, IHPC Executive Director
Those in favor view the establishment of such an office as a rallying point, bringing together all those who want to see better collaboration among healthcare practitioners and greater equality of funding for various research and education initiatives. Without such an office, the argument goes, patients will forever be forced to integrate their own care, one by one, and CAM/IM disciplines will always be fighting for a very small piece of the action. Supporters ask: Don't we want more for our nation's health care than that?

Many note that the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is sometimes pushed toward such a role even though its charge is only a subset of the research agenda.

Some Arguments Opposed

One argument of those not taken with the idea of a federal office for integrated health care is that the labor involved in lobbying for an such an office could be substantial, and the time needed to develop administrative rules and get it established would be significant. How long will it be until such an office is actually of any use to anyone? Aren't all of our resources scarce? Wouldn't it be better to just go our own ways with what resources we have and push for changes we want now?

And by the way, who would control this office? Don't such federal initiatives usually end up being run by the very powerful, influential and well-lobbied interests which they are often set up to change?


So What is Your View?

Please
participate in the poll, upper left side of the home page:
Creating a federal office for integrated health care is critical for improving health care in the United States.

Disclosure note: I serve as a member of the IHPC steering committee. I will report outcomes of this poll together with that of the differently-languaged original poll. To learn more about the IHPC, click here.
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