It took an act of the US Congress, but the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) has finally taken steps toward offering chiropractic care to all US military and veterans. The first step involves the creation of a committee to oversee and make recommendations to the DVA on how best to offer chiropractic care to all their beneficiaries. As was reported in the August 8, 2002 issue of the Chiropractic News Service, as well as most every other chiropractic publication, the five member Advisory Committee was made up of representatives from most national chiropractic associations.
Initial indications are that the Chiropractic Advisory Committee will have at least three meetings in the coming year, based on budget information the DVA has provided. “We are pleased to finally see some movement on this vital new chiropractic program,” said International Chiropractors Association President Dr. D.D. Humber. “We continue to have concerns, however, over the delay in taking this first step of naming Chiropractic Advisory Committee members and what it might mean for the rest of the process. We will urge the chiropractic representatives of this committee to come together and aggressively assert the rights of veterans to receive the chiropractic services mandated by Congress, without obstruction or unnecessary delay on the part of the DVA.”
Among the key issues which this Advisory Committee will deal with will be direct access to chiropractic care, a vital component of any benefits program and one of the top priorities in this and in all health benefits programs, both public and private. Most of the chiropractic profession is concerned that the DVA will attempt to limit the access of chiropractic care, placing the benefits under the direct referral of medical doctors. The chiropractic profession and the national associations are unanimous in their objection to any provision that would limit the rights of US veterans to have direct access to chiropractic services when they desire them.
The wording of the bill that requires chiropractic care to be offered by the DVA includes the following. “The program shall be carried out at sites designated by the Secretary for purpose of the program. The Secretary shall designate [at least] one site for such program in each geographic service area of the Veterans Health Administration. The sites so designated shall be medical centres and clinics located in urban areas and in rural areas. The chiropractic care and services available under the program shall include a variety of chiropractic care and services for neuro-musculoskeletal conditions, including subluxation complex.”