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Alert: IHPC Launches Campaign with Insurance Commission Deborah Senn to Secure Non-Discrimination PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Integrator Alert: IHPC Launches Campaign with Former WA Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn to Secure Non-Discrimination (Section 2706)

Announcing a critically important campaign
Section 2706 of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 promises
"non-discrimination in health care." The provision was lobbied by the American Chiropractic Association and the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) and championed by U.S. Senators Tom Harkin and Barbara Mikulski, MD. The intention was to honor citizen choice by broadening access to non-MD providers. Of greatest interest to Harkin and the duo lobbying organizations are those classified as licensed complementary and alternative medicine practitioners.

Deborah Senn: retained by IHPC
But what will 2706 actually mean for patient access and coverage of these licensed disciplines? What influence will insurer antagonism have on implementation? How will the short clause be interpreted in emerging regulations, state-by-state actions on essential health benefits decisions, employer interpretations, and judicial considerations? A frank opponent of 2706 is the America Medical Association (A.M.A.), which sees opposition as part of its state-to-state campaign to suppress other disciplines. (See
Battle On: MD Specialists Promote Repeal of Non-Discrimination Vs Integrative Practitioners, Others.) 

Now the 
Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) has announced that the lobbying organization and it multidisciplinary Partners for Health will coordinate a state-by-state campaign to assist what they call "correct implementation" of 2706. IHPC is retaining the person with most experience as an elected official in manuevering through the minefield of insurer, guild and regulatory resistance to citizen interest in broader choice: former Washington State Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn.

Here is the IHPC's release. I follow with some background and comments. As you read, connsider what individuals or organizations you know that might wish to contribute to this campaign. Make a contribution. (My spouse and i just did.) Then contact them! 


IHPC Announces State-by-State Campaign for "Correct Implementation" of Section 2706

The Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC)
January 18, 2012

Contact: Alyssa Wostrel, Executive Director

or 202-505-IHPC (4472)

The Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) is launching a strategic state-by-state campaign to support the correct implementation of Section 2706 of the Affordable Care Act in 2013.

Len Wisneski, MD: IHPC chair
Section 2706 prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against health care providers relative to their participation and coverage in health plans, thereby encouraging the full utilization of healthcare providers and reduction in costs for patient care. 

The Honorable Deborah Senn, JD [former State of Washington Insurance Commissioner] is representing IHPC's regulated CAM and IHC practitioner constituency and by extension patients and consumers of healthcare in a  strategically constructed state-by-state plan of action. Ms. Senn's highly regarded expertise in health care and insurance reform is coupled with the IHPC's Partners for Health commitment to have a strong voice during the implementation process of Section 2706 in 2013. 
"Because of Section 2706 of the ACA, over the next 12 months we have an unparalleled opportunity to incorporate integrative healthcare practitioners into the payor system and make patient access to those practitioners across the country a happy reality." 
- Former Washington State Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn, JD

Funding for the launch of the campaign and Ms. Senn's involvement has come from generous support from the chiropractic community. Additional funding os expected soon from organizations associated with other licensed disciplines and integrative healthcare supporters and stakeholders. 

 IHPC will be a National Clearinghouse
and information channel for its membership
base and integrative healthcare
community nationally.

IHPC will be a National Clearinghouse and information channel for its membership base and integrative healthcare community nationally. On a state level our actions will include interfacing with State Associations, State Insurance Commissioners and Directors of Exchanges with proposals, white papers and an informational kit.  This will include "lessons learned" seminars and sharing of best practices of disciplines and organizations in working in their states.  Grass roots advocacy efforts targeting both patients and practitioners are currently in play. Additionally, IHPC will engage the Medical Homes and coding and reimbursement aspect of the 2706 implementation. 

Wostrel: organizing the effort
The IHPC Partners for Health is the consensus voice of 14 healthcare organizations including the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), the MD-led integrative pain organization, the American Academy of Pain Management (AAPM).  IHPC's base is the organizations and educational institutions representing the 375,000 licensed, whole person-oriented integrative healthcare disciplines including the American Association for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM), the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA), the International Chiropractors Association (ICA), the American Institute of Homeopathy (AIH), the National Center for Homeopathy (NCH), the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM), the American Massage Therapy Association, (AMTA), the Naturopathic Medical Student Association (NMSA) and Life University, Bastyr University and Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research. IHPC's Policy Council members include the Chanda Plan Foundation and Double Helix Water.

For more information, please contact Alyssa Wostrel, Executive Director, IHPC,
at or 202-505-IHPC (4472).

CommentSection 2706 stimulates hope that some of the historic prejudice imbedded in the U.S. payment and delivery may be overthrown. Citizens could soon have increased access to non-MD and especially integrative healthcare providers. The section, "Non-Discrimination in Health Care," reads like apple pie. Basically, it states that U.S. insurers should not cover a service by one type of provider (such as acupuncture by a medical doctor) and not cover it for another the (such as a licensed acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioner). Some early interpretations are that it trumps the ERISA exemption through which self-insurerd employers opt out of legislative mandates for coverage on CAM and other services.

 The best approximation of how 2706 might be received may be what happened in Washington State from 1995-2002. That state passed the "every category of healthcare provider" act. The response of insurers shows that one person's apple pie is another's house of horrors. Antagonists fought expensive battles, on multiple fronts, to maintain barricades against citizen access to licensed chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and midwives. Insurers used multiple internal strategies to limit the new benefits. Business associations fronted political campaigns to overturn the statute. Insurers combined in a series of court actions.

  MD Academic Group Supports 2706

The Consortium of Academic Health Centers
for Integrative Medicine took a remarkable
step in solidarity with their "CAM" colleagues
when they announced via their newsletter
their support for 2706.
See the newsletter noted here.
At the center of all these battles was former insurance commissioner Deborah Senn. Senn took it to the insurers with the full power of her office. Hers was a remarkable act of public service for a n elected official. A consumer advocate on many fronts, Senn happened to also be a patient of the national naturopathic leader Bruce Milliman, ND. Senn hired a politically saavy massage therapist, Lori Bielinski, LMP, to handle issues in her office. She issued directives to the insurers. She lost and won and then ultimately beat the insurers in the courts. She helped create a context in which legislative overturn was politically unpalatable.

Most remarkably, Senn forced insurers and the "CAM" disciplines into relationship with each other. She created the Clinicians Workgroup on the Integration of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. I had the opportunity to be involved. The two-year process of bimonthly half-day, facilitated meetings, was not exactly a love-fest. Yet the horns of ignorance visibly retracted. Relationships of respect grew. The end result of the work to which Senn dedicateda portion of her public service is that Washington state has produced the most extensive, real body of information on everything from credentialing to cost, that has informed this dialogue nationally.

For IHPC to bring on Senn is a coup. Creating the "correct" (a.k.a. licensed CAM-friendly) implementation of this statute will require another long-term, protracted campaign. Credit the unnamed chiropractic groups for coming up with the initial funds to contract with Senn. Will you, your organizations and institutions, step up to help fund IHPC's work on the clearinghouse, the publication of best practices, labor-saving networking and the relationship building that will be needed for 2706 to have the optimal impact on public health?

IHPC has a PayPal account here. Send checks to Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium, P.O. Box 491, Conifer, CO 80433. My spouse and I just sent $100. It's not tax-deductible. It's lobbying. To get something done. Chip in.

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