The Supreme Court is going to issue a decision this June on the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (ACA). There are serious differences of opinion on the constitutionality of the new law as well as its effect on the cost of health care, the cost of health insurance, and society in general. However you view the law, there are three mandates in the ACA that I personally hope survive the Supreme Court decision, or re-emerge in a new law, if the entire ACA is struck down.
The ACA mandates that conventional practitioners (MDs, nurses, Dos, PTs, etc.) collaborate with CAM practitioners (MTs, DCs, LACs, NDs and Midwives). How many times have you wished that your health care practitioners were coordinating their care with each other? Or that they were all in the same location? The ACA requires that the entire health care system move in the direction of collaboration.
There are many people in this country who only see conventional practitioners. Conversely, there are many others who scrupulously try to avoid conventional practitioners and only see CAM practitioners. Personally, I believe we need everyone’s expertise at some point. Last year I had my gall bladder surgically (laparoscopic) removed. While I think medicine and surgery should be utilized as a last resort in general, they move to the top of the list in emergencies and certain critical cases. But, once people are symptom free what can medicine and surgery do for them? CAM practitioners are the key players in wellness care that moves folks closer to optimal health by creating comprehensive balance (structural, biochemical/organic, bioenergetic, emotional, mental, spiritual). The usefulness of therapeutic massage (and most CAM professions) spans the full range of states of well being. Massage helps with preventative care, illness care and wellness care.
The ACA mandates that the health care system shift from a focus on illness care to a focus on wellness. Of course, illness will still be treated. But, wellness is to become the goal of the system overall. Surprisingly to some, academic medicine has embraced the new mandates for wellness and collaboration. Over 50 of the leading medical schools have already embraced wellness as their goal. These schools understand that conventional practitioners will need to incorporate health educators and CAM practitioners to achieve optimal health for their patients.
A third mandate in the Affordable Care Act is that health practitioners’ compensation will be based on health outcomes. Doctors will make more money if their patients are healthier- needing fewer surgeries, taking fewer medications and developing fewer chronic illnesses. This mandate reminds me of the old Chinese practice of paying the doctor when you are well and not paying when you are sick.
I like it.
To summarize: the three mandates of collaboration, wellness and compensation based on health outcomes need to survive no matter what happens with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the ACA.