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An influential group of U.S. senators say it is time to embrace an array of alternative therapies

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Has the Time Come for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) to Join the Mainstream? An influential group of U.S. senators say it is time to embrace an array of alternative therapies!
The Boston Globe reports that Sens. Harkin, Mikulski and Enzi are sponsors and supporters of an amendment to the healthcare reform legislation that would forbid healthcare plans to discriminate against any healthcare provider who is state-licensed. Sen. Harkin’s aides indicate the amendment is designed to provide coverage for alternative medicine.

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn was embroiled in controversy in 1996 when HMO firms that wanted to do business in Washington were told they must accept “any willing provider” who was licensed by the state. Insurance companies had not previously covered the services of naturopathic practitioners and other CAM providers. Legal battles ensued, but Commissioner Senn prevailed in her insistence that consumers in Washington were entitled to the services of “any willing provider” if an insurance company wrote policies where naturopathic physicians, for example, were licensed.
While the standard AMA position is “there is little evidence to confirm the safety or efficacy of most alternative practices,” that rings hollow when conventional medicine is put to the scientific test. While many may say alternative health care coverage is not a good idea, there are many who do not avail themselves of these services because insurance coverage is lacking. A potential national health insurance program once again brings the matter to light. According to Sen. Harkin, “It’s time to end the discrimination against alternative healthcare practices.” The nearly 500,000 licensed providers of alternative and integrative therapies may be heard to say “Amen” to that statement. This is a basic issue of health care freedom for all American practitioners and the patients who use these therapies.

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