As DC2017 has come and gone, I have gained another year of valuable experiences that I will take with me wherever I go. It is still surreal that I had the privilege to attend one of the biggest events in the chiropractic profession put on by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) and the Association for Chiropractic Colleges (ACC). I also had the opportunity to lobby on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the ACA with my fellow Student American Chiropractic Association (SACA) members and some of the most incredible doctors I have ever met. Prior to DC2017, our executive board held meetings with attendees to prepare them for lobbying.
Our legislative representative, Urvi Khare, created agendas for us to lead small group meetings and taught attendees how to lobby and confidently speak about the profession to others. We had attendees practice their elevator speeches about what chiropractic is in front of our small groups, giving them some public speaking experience prior to sending them off to lobby. This was a very important part of preparing us for DC2017, and these are skills the attendees were able to draw on not only during lobbying, but when networking as well.
I would like to mention before anything else, that this experience would have been impossible without the hard work and support from my fellow SACA executive board members. I had the privilege of serving on our school’s SACA executive board as the vice president as well as co-vice chair of National Membership committee for SACA this past year. My classmates, friends and family often have questions regarding this conference, the lobbying experience and my involvement with the SACA, so I will attempt to answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
Lobbying efforts with SACA:
Lobbying is when individuals or an organization try to influence a politician’s opinion about something, such as a change or addition to existing laws. At DC2017, SACA members like me did not decide what we lobbied for at the conference, that was a job for the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), which is the non-student version of our professional organization. The issues we lobbied for were on the association’s behalf. To lobby for or against something, you make an appointment to meet with your congressional representative and then you go talk to them about the issue or legislation you are lobbying for in hopes to gain their support to get it enacted into law. It is important to do your research before you meet with members of the House of Representatives or members of the Senate.
What were you lobbying for this year?
This year at DC2017, we lobbied for four different bills. Three of these bills were for the House of Representatives, while one was for the Senate.
HR 103: This is specifically for the House, but also urged senators to co-sponsor a similar senate bill titled S. 609. This bill concerns veteran access to chiropractic care and the implementation of chiropractic care into more major Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities and hospitals across the country. Currently, only 60 major VA facilities employ chiropractors, while chiropractic presence is absent at more than 100 major facilities. This becomes a problem for veterans in need of chiropractic care in areas where the VA has no chiropractor on staff. During DC2017, we had a productive meeting with Congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA). She was completely baffled by the fact that the Portland VA does not have a chiropractor on staff and offered her assistance to help us change that. If this is something that ends up getting changed because of our meeting with her, I will forever be able to say that I was a part of getting chiropractic care implemented into our local VA facility, which is a really cool and impactful experience.
HR 1378: This budget neutral bill would allow chiropractors to be included as eligible applicants for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) post-graduation. The NHSC is made up of many different health care professionals who provide services in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HSPAs). Currently, doctors of chiropractic are not eligible to be applicants and this bill is trying to change that.
HR 302: This bill unanimously passed the House of Representatives in January 2017. It concerns team physicians and their ability to provide care to athletes during sporting events outside of their home state. Essentially, this bill ensures that the sports health provider’s liability insurance covers chiropractors outside of their home state for services within their scope of practice. Since it passed the House, it will next be voted on in the Senate, so at DC2017 we presented this bill to senators and thanked the representatives for their support.
HR 372: House Resolution 372 is about the federal anti-trust laws and how health insurance companies are not subject to those laws and may therefore practice unfair trade practices like price fixing, collusion or market allocations. I am pleased to say that this bill passed the House. It was so cool to witness the direct benefits of our work lobbying right after the trip to D.C.