Health care reform legislation has been passed by the U.S. House and Senate and has been signed by the President.

To date, very few predictions have been made regarding the impact of this legislation on the chiropractic profession. In my opinion, the most important change for the citizens of the United States who seek chiropractic care is what has come to be known as the Harkin Amendment. One of the principal concerns for chiropractors is how the new law will affect patient access to care. A letter written  to President Obama and Congressional leaders prior to the passage of this legislation did a great job describing foundational elements of why the changes were necessary. The Patient’s Access to Responsible Care Alliance (PARCA),  composed of 12 different major associations including the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Chiropractic Association, the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Optometric Association, the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Podiatric Medical Association, and the American Psychological Association, wrote to President Obama and Congressional leaders stating:
“Provider discrimination is not only wrong in principle, but is anti-competitive in nature. This abusive practice limits, or even denies, patient choice and access to a range of beneficial providers; and in general, results in a less than ideal and optimal delivery system. Additionally, ensuring that providers are not discriminated against in such fashion would help encourage the placement and location of a wide range of skilled healthcare professionals in those areas of our nation currently without sufficient numbers of health providers to adequately serve the public. ”
The PARCA urged their support for the Harkin Amendment Section 2706, the provision for “Non-Discrimination in Health Care.” While how the actual amendment will be enacted is to be seen, the Harkin Amendment reads:
“A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall not discriminate with respect to participation under the plan or coverage against any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider’s license or certification under applicable State law.”
Furthermore, the healthcare reform bill specifically includes chiropractors in interdisciplinary community health teams that are to be formed. Such community health teams are integrated teams of providers that include primary care providers, specialists, other clinicians, licensed integrative health professionals and community resources to enhance patient care, wellness and lifestyle improvements.

In addition, a National Health Care Workforce Commission is to be formed under Congress and the presidency to examine current and projected needs in the health care workforce.

The commission is to specifically include doctors of chiropractic as part of the health care workforce and includes them in the definition of health professionals. Chiropractic colleges are among the health professional training schools to be studied as well.
While people may have differing opinions about whether the healthcare reform bill is good for the country as a whole, supporters of medical alternatives and freedom of choice can be sure that the bill takes a historic step in the right direction.