The health care reform bill has passed and many people will be celebrating that, finally, the United States will work to assure every citizen health insurance that cannot be canceled because you change your job, because you get sick, or for any other reason.
Remember this is just a start to the transformation of health care. While all of the things I worked for with my colleagues, Drs. Dean Ornish and Michael Roizen, on Capitol Hill the last year did not make it into the final bill, a few important things did and we can build on that. In fact, in my last meeting with Senator Harkin in December, he assured me that the passage of this bill would be just the beginning of reform and that after it passed we could move on to health care reform 2.0 that addresses more of the underlying issues about not only who is covered but what
Those of us who believe in preventive health care, integrated health care, functional medicine, and complementary and alternative medicine have special reasons to celebrate. This bill has provisions that explicitly support these approaches to health care. One of these is the creation of a National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council, which I testified about before the Senate last February.
Today I want to introduce you to your new best friend, a friend who has been working on your behalf for years without your knowing it, a friend who had a huge role in seeing to it that this health care reform bill addresses preventive and integrative care.
The Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) was created in 2002 and has been quietly working on Capitol Hill to bring about the kinds of changes in health care that we all want. Last month, I was in New York presenting at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium and I was on a panel with IHPC's executive director, Dr. Janet Kahn. When I heard her describe what IHPC has been doing about health care reform and the things that are lying quietly in this bill, I got very excited about their work and what is to come in 2010.
Dr. Kahn explained 3 major aspects of this bill that IHPC helped shape:
1. Due to Kahn's work with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the definition of the health care workforce was amended so that it now officially includes, "licensed complementary and alternative medicine providers and integrative health care practitioners."
2. IHPC was a collaborator on the creation of the Wellness Initiative for the Nation (WIN), a document that prompted the inclusion of the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council that I mentioned above. Truly remarkable.
3. And third, IHPC worked hard to have the Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research in the bill. This will allow functional medicine approaches to be evaluated toe to toe with conventional medicine.
And there will be more. As Kahn so clearly told the audience in New York, this health care reform bill is just the beginning. It contains toeholds from which we climb toward what we really want - a nation that really understands how to help people live healthy lives and that supports the availability of many different pathways to healing.
I often say that I practice functional medicine because it tackles and fixes the underlying causes of health problems and doesn't paper over the symptoms as so much of conventional medicine does. That is exactly IHPC's approach to health care reform. IHPC is about reforming the very architecture of American health care.
I encourage you to join the IHPC Online Action Network as I have done. Help move this work forward. By joining the Network you will receive updates and insider information about how IHPC is continuing this commitment to true health care reform; you will receive opportunities to communicate directly with Congress and the Obama administration; and you will be able to provide critical feedback on strategy, priorities, and the direction of this work. And most importantly, IHPC will be working every day on behalf of you, me, and all of us who believe in functional medicine, preventive medicine, and integrated health care.
Be happy, be healthy!
Mark Hyman, M.D.
PS- IHPC has done amazing work in 2009. Support the work ahead with a donation today.
Mark Hyman, M.D. practicing physician and founder of The UltraWellness Center is a pioneer in functional medicine. Dr. Hyman is now sharing the 7 ways to tap into your body's natural ability to heal itself. You can follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, watch his videos on Youtube and become a fan on Facebook.