Health Policy

IOM President
Harvey Fineberg

In an article published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, Harvey V. Fineberg, MD, president of the Institute of Medicine, presented a vision for resolving the pervasive and recalcitrant problems that plague what he “purposefully refers to a ‘health system’ rather than a ‘health care system.'”

But he buried his own personal advice to his colleagues at the far end of the piece. I’ve pulled it up for closer inspection. (more…)


US Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa has been the primary Congressional paladin for the integrative medicine and prevention and wellness community since the early 1990’s, when he personally cajoled the Congress to create the Office of Alternative Medicine. In the subsequent 20 years, integrative therapies, modalities, and approaches to care have become far more accepted across the conventional care landscape, including in hospitals and care facilities and in medical schools.

Here Harkin addresses attendees of the April 2011 iMosaic Conference in Minneapolis, and brings viewers up to date on this journey, describing where the Affordable Care Act defines integrative health practices and the major initiative to advance a National Prevention Strategy in which integrative practices can play an important role.

One of the few real advances in the Affordable Care Act — in terms of actual therapeutic benefits — was the inclusion of the professions embodied in the term “integrative health practitioner” in the nation’s healthcare workforce.  Adoption of this wording reflects the reality that millions of consumers have been choosing health and wellness services and those therapies are finding wider acceptance in conventional medical settings and in the military health system.

Now that the wording is in the legislation, the adherents are moving the to address a slight shortcoming:  “integrative health practice” needs a standard definition.

On Nov. 9  I had the opportunity to participate in a symposium that had the feeling of a seminal moment for the integrative health community. The “Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM) Stakeholder Symposium” held in Baltimore focused on changes now underway that may well redefine how evidence is defined in medical research. The trend has evolved over the last decade, independently of the growth of integrative practice. It has come about largely because of dissatisfaction with the results of narrowly constructed but long accepted traditional research methodologies (i.e., random controlled trials).

As a result, in the next two years, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) will be channeling $800 million into a formal program for Comparative Effectiveness Research.


IMG-Rpt-coverThe Institute of Medicine today released its long awaited report on the Summit on Integrative Medicine and Health of the Public that was held in Washington in February of 2009. While this report does not contain action steps for the IOM itself, it is a very thorough account of the sentiments expressed by the leaders of the nation’s integrative health community during that auspicious three day conference.

The Summit was co-produced by the Bravewell Collaborative, which is holding a dinner in Washington this evening to mark the report’s release.   Bravewell CEO Christy Mack said in a statement released today, “We have to start valuing and paying for health,” which is a sentiment that was powerfully demonstrated in the stories and presentations heard at the Summit. (more…)

Re-born NIH Wellness Unit: Clinical-Research Factor?

Steve_Burd_Safeway02In April of 2008 I sat in the audience at the World Health Care Congress here in Washington and listened to Safeway CEO Steve Burd describe the impressive success his company attained by putting behavior-centric wellness programs into place. It was impressive, and I thought that the concept might find quick appeal among other self-insureds.

But I didn’t anticipate that the company’s “Healthy Measures” program would largely define a piece of the Senate’s health reform package. But here it is, referred to by its sponsor, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) as the “Safeway Amendment.” A good summary of how these approaches have arrived in the reform bill was published today in the Washington Post. (more…)

Letter to Pelosi highlights work of Integrative Practice Advocates

Late Monday night, the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) announced that 47 members of the House have signed a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging her to:

…ensure that any final legislation…reflects certain patient and provider safeguards that currently exist in state law.  These protections include provisions intended to ensure patient choice of provider and (to) prevent discrimination against entire classes of health providers by health insurance plans.


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