I'll admit that I'm not particularly convinced of the efficacy of alternative medicine, but that's fine. I don't have to seek it. However, people who want to try alternative treatments should be free to do so.
They aren't likely to be able to do so with health care "reform."
We are the heads of two non-profit organizations - one of us liberal and the other conservative - who are concerned that the impending healthcare legislation will negatively impact holistic and natural medicine and limit the healthcare choices of the people who consume it.
Because alternative medicine is highly effective in treating many of the chronic conditions which resist treatment by establishment medicine -from arthritis, heart disease, and chronic pain to insomnia and attention-deficit disorders - nearly 50 percent of Americans regularly use some type of alternative therapy, according to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association. In fact, the study found that visits to alternative practitioners, for treatments ranging from acupuncture and chiropractic to herbal remedies, outnumber all visits to primary care physicians by almost two to one. Additionally, more than 100 million Americans "regularly consume dietary supplements as a means of improving and maintaining healthy lifestyles," according to a U.S. Senator who has worked on related legislation.
Nonetheless, "alternative therapies (including acupuncture, chelation therapy, biofeedback and holistic medicine) are not covered by Medicare," says the federal government. The same is true of Medicaid. Nobody expects better coverage for alternative treatments when, as a key part of the reform legislation, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) determines the "essential health benefits" that insurance plans will contain. When supporters of the legislation speak of a right to health care, they mean a right to establishment medicine.
Anyone who values freedom of choice in medical treatment had better speak up now.
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