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DCs in DC: National Chiropractic Leadership Conference 2015

by on March 15, 2015

On February 25, nearly 600 people descended on Washington, DC, for the National Chiropractic Leadership Conference, most commonly known as NCLC. This annual conference brings doctors, students, and other advocates together for a weekend centered around lobbying for patient choice and chiropractic-friendly legislation.

Making an impressive showing, 280 of those gathering on Capitol Hill were chiropractic students. Right off the bus/plane, we were greeted by a reception in a Congressional hall, where several of the country’s most supportive legislators stopped in to thank us for dedicating time to improving American healthcare. The legislators also offered their advice and support in the lobbying efforts that day and in the coming year.  That support translated directly into action the next day as we took to the Hill, laden with the legislative briefs we had all learned about over the past weeks. New York Chiropractic College students alone accounted for 28 legislative meetings, speaking with a mix of health policy aides, senators, and representatives. With 13 other college campuses represented, and doctors from each state, we were able to reach the majority of the legislative offices.

The most common sentiment among students attending for the first time was surprise at the casual, respectful and conversational atmosphere of the lobbying meetings. Most students, regardless of experience level, were able to contribute valuable input to the meetings. This was my third year attending the conference and lobbying the Hill, and I’m happy to report that the reception to us has been more positive with each progressing year. Reflecting that value, nine new co-sponsors had signed on to ACA-supported bills within one week of our departure. You can take a look at the issues at the end of this post.

The weekend was rounded out with other business, presentations, socials, and free time in the capitol. Students elected our new national leadership for the next year (congratulations Deepa, Heather, Mike, Jon, and committee leaders!). We invited the leaders of a number of chiropractic specialties to present their work to students. We traded business cards with doctors, mentors, potential employers, and vendors. And of course, we filled Instagram with monuments, museums, and memories. I can’t wait for the next conference to bring us together again!

Here are the bills we lobbied at NCLC 2015. *All legislators marked with an asterisk signed on to co-sponsor the bill immediately following NCLC. THANK YOU to them, their staff, and those who have worked with them!

Allow Doctors of Chiropractic to Participate in the National Health Service Corps (H.R. 542)

  • Introduced to the House by: Representative Greg Harper (R – MS).
  • Cosponsored by: Mark Amodei (R – NV), *Alan Grayson (D-FL), *Alcee Hastings (D-FL), *Ed Perlmutter (D-CO),
    *David Scott (D-GA), *Don Young (R-AK)
  • Referred to: House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Purpose: Allows D.C. grads to apply for the opportunity to practice in underserved areas in exchange for loan forgiveness, part of an existing program. Does not increase costs or create new positions, and eligible applicants already come from a very wide spread of health professions.

Providing TRICARE Beneficiaries with Access to Chiropractic Care (H.R. 802)

  • Introduced to the House by: Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL).
  • Cosponsored by: Dave Loebsack (D-IA), *Joe Courtney (D-CT), *Alan Grayson (D-FL), *Alcee Hastings (D-FL),
    *David Scott (D-GA)
  • Referred to: House Armed Services Committee.

Purpose: Currently, chiropractic care is available to active duty troops at 60 military treatment facilities in the United States and at bases in Germany and Japan. However, once they become inactive, those who served no longer have access to any chiropractic services. The goal of this bill is to ensure that chiropractic care becomes available to retirees, dependents, and survivor beneficiaries in the military TRICARE system so we may continue to provide them with pain management through a non-pharmacological approach.

Eliminate Disparities in Veterans’ Access to Chiropractic Care (S. 398)

  • Introduced to the Senate by: Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS)
  • Cosponsored by: Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Angus King (I-ME), Jon Tester (D-MT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
  • Referred to: Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee

Purpose: As of February 2015, the Veterans Affairs (VA) offers access to chiropractors at just over 50 major VA treatment facilities in the U.S.  The problem is that the majority of the eligible veterans are denied care because the VA has failed to offer chiropractic services at nearly 100 additional major VA facilities. These locations do not have chiropractors on staff and referrals to doctors of chiropractic care outside the VA system are rarely provided. This bill would incorporate the services of doctors of chiropractic at all VA major medical facilities over several years.

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