The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments to address illness conditions and to reinforce good health has become so prevalent in the US that the Affordable Care Act includes provisions that direct insurers to cover the work of licensed CAM providers. For many of the nearly 400,000 professionals around the country, the possibility of working in parity in the economics of US healthcare is thrilling. And barely believable.
The truth is that this somewhat obscure provision is something of a puzzle for the officials in the states whose job it is to ensure laws like this are adhered to by the insurers they regulate.
Entitled “Non-discrimination in healthcare,” Section 2706 of the ACA falls into the same part of the Affordable Care Act that prohibits discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. These and others address what the law defines as healthcare marketplace “imbalances.”
My May article for the Altarum Institute’s Health Policy Blog looks at the status of that implementation since the law went into effect on January 1. This includes recent initiatives by the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) to extend its year-long effort supporting correct implementation of Section 2706. In April, IHPC hosted briefings on Capitol Hill for US Senate and House staffers. Representatives from both conventional hospital and academic health centers where integrative practice is growing in use, and from the integrative professions that IHPC represents described the growing integration of their approaches.
In fact, the primary trend of the season is that the historic gap between conventional medicine and the holistic/integrative community is gradually closing, or at least being connected in serious ways. For instance, the federal employee health plan provided by BlueCross-BlueShield, which supports more than eight million individuals, announced in February its adherence to the provisions of Section 2706, thus offering a broader selection of care options to our Federal employees. (A good place to start could be an extended regime of mindfulness-based stress-reduction classes…)
[ 1 ] – I do some volunteering for IHPC on media-related issues.