Chiropractors to Keep our Veterans Healthy Act

by ICA News

California Rep. Bob Filner has introduced vitally important legislation, HR 1471, the “Better Access to Chiropractors to Keep our Veterans Healthy Act (BACK Veterans Health Act),” which would provide for urgently needed reforms in the way veteran beneficiaries of the US Department of Veterans Affairs can access chiropractic services.

This important legislation would:

  • Provide for direct access for veterans to chiropractic services and end the current climate of discrimination in which some DVA medical professionals refuse requests for referral to a doctor of chiropractic.
  • Expand the list of chiropractic services available to eligible veterans through the DVA health care programs, thus providing for a level of care comparable to other first-class healthcare delivery programs.
  • Provide veterans a greater say in their own health care decision making.
  • California Rep Bob Filner 2007 (photo: California Rep. Bob Filner (right) with Dr. Michael McLean at the 2007 Legislative Work Day in Washington, DC)

    “This legislation represents a critical frontier for the veteran and the chiropractic profession alike,” said ICA Legislative Committee Co-Chair Dr. Michael S. McLean. “Every doctor of chiropractic in the United States needs to make the passage of this bill a top priority and personally act today to get their US House of Representatives Member to sign on as a co-sponsor.” Dr. McLean served as a member of the Chiropractic Veterans Advisory Committee established by Congress in 2001 to assist in the effective implementation of chiropractic benefits in the Department of Veterans Affairs where ICA continually made direct access a top priority, but was unsuccessful in securing this right for veterans through those deliberations.

    HR 1471 will help address the long waiting periods veterans are experiencing when seeking care and the documented reluctance or outright refusal of medical doctors and physical therapists, now in the gatekeeper role in the Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide referrals for veterans for chiropractic care.

    HR 1471, when enacted into law, would provide that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs “shall permit eligible veterans to receive needed medical services, rehabilitative services, and preventative health services from a licensed doctor of chiropractic on a direct access basis at the election of the eligible veteran.”

    Rep. Filner is a longstanding and outspoken advocate of equitable access and federal funding for chiropractic services, both in recognition of the unique and highly cost effective contribution chiropractic care can make to the health of citizens of all ages, as well as his own personal experience with and understanding of chiropractic. In his statement in the Congressional Record upon his introduction of HR 1471, Mr. Filner stated: “I am a chiropractic patient myself and have been greatly helped by chiropractic care for physical problems caused by an automobile accident. I hate to think that veterans do not have this same opportunity for relief from pain.”

    Now serving his sixth term in Congress, one of Rep. Filner’s early appointments upon arriving in Washington was to a seat on the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. In that capacity he has been a tireless fighter for veterans, winning the praise of thousands of veterans and high accolades from national veterans’ organizations and health care groups including the chiropractic profession. Now serving as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Rep. Filner is doing all he can to support a better chiropractic program for veterans with HR 1471 and other initiatives.

    “Medical gatekeepers are the most disruptive and insidious barriers to timely, quality chiropractic care, and Rep. Filner has acted to offer a sound solution through HR 1471,” said Dr. McLean. “The chiropractic profession must respond to his call to action and make sure that there are large numbers of co-sponsors. This is how this legislation will be passed.”

    To facilitate identifying your US House of Representatives Member, please go to the link shown below. This is the official site of the US House and they have a Member finder feature that allows you to enter in your zip code, and the name of your House Member will appear. House seats are apportioned according to population and thus the larger states have more Members.

    US House Members can add their names to this important bill as co-sponsors by calling Mr. Filner’s office at 202-225-8045.
    “With a year to go before the 2008 elections, there is still time to pas HR 1471,” said Dr. McLean. “This will happen only if you act today!”

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