White House Panel Makes Recommendations on Alternative Care

by Michael P. Thompson

The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy has issued final recommendations regarding Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the United States. Created by President Clinton in March, 2000, the commission was charged with making recommendations in four areas: (a) the education and training of health care practitioners in complementary and alternative medicine; (b) coordinated research to increase knowledge about complementary and alternative medicine practices and products; (c) the provision to health care professionals of reliable and useful information about complementary and alternative medicine that can be made readily accessible and understandable to the general public; and (d) guidance for appropriate access to and delivery of complementary and alternative medicine.

In its final report, the Commission made 29 specific recommendations regarding CAM policy in the United States, including research, legislation, regulation, promotion, and reimbursement. While the Commission was very careful to advocate research and the use of proven therapies, two of the members, in an unusual move, issued a dissenting statement, saying that the Commission's recommendations 'do not appropriately acknowledge the limitations of unproven and unvalidated 'CAM' interventions or adequately address the minimization of risk.'

The dissenting members, Tieraona Low Dog, MD, and Joseph J. Fins, MD, FACP, labeled some of the recommendations as 'boosterism' and said the panel tended to lump together proven and unproven therapies, which might strain funding sources and water down the effects of conventional medical care without improving health.

James S. Gordon, MD, chair of the Commission, on the other hand, cited teaching breathing techniques and biofeedback to children with problems concentrating as a good example of how CAM could more cost-effectively help Americans become more healthy. According to Dr. Gordon, the panel's recommendations create 'a road map for discovering ways that CAM approaches might enhance our health care in the years ahead, a guide to help the President, Congress and the American people take necessary steps to create a more effective, comprehensive, responsive and humane health care system.'

Several of the recommendations could impact professional associations, such as AAPB, certification programs such as BCIA, and whether individual practitioners are licensed or regulated by state or federal government bodies. See more information at:

http://www.whccamp.hhs.gov/finalreport.html and http://www.cmbm.org/press/releases/WHC%20Report.htm

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