as I have said before, interest groups in Britain have managed to get homeopaths and chiropractors subsidized by public tax dollars
http://www.boston.com/news/health/artic ... therapies/Senators seek coverage for alternative therapies
By Michael Kranish
Globe Staff / July 24, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Naturopathic doctors, herbal healers, mind-body specialists, and acupuncturists often have been scorned by the US medical establishment, but growing numbers of Americans are seeking such care, and now an influential group of US senators believes the time has come to embrace an array of alternative therapies.
Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who is a longtime supporter of nontraditional medicine, is at the forefront of the effort to win insurance coverage for such providers as part of national healthcare legislation.
“It’s time to end the discrimination against alternative healthcare practices,’’ Harkin said at a congressional hearing.
Harkin is the cosponsor of an amendment that says healthcare plans will not be allowed to “discriminate’’ against any healthcare provider who has a license issued by a state, an amendment Senate aides said was designed to provide coverage for alternative medicine. Backers of the amendment say it could save tens of billions of dollars in the long run by providing less expensive and better alternatives to drugs and surgery in a variety of cases. The amendment was adopted by a Senate committee writing health legislation, but details are still being negotiated.
With hundreds of disciplines falling under the general category of alternative medicine, and with a variety of sometimes-conflicting studies about their effectiveness, there is much disagreement about the value of including such providers in a national health insurance program.
State by state, there is a wide disparity of coverage of alternative medicine. For example, Massachusetts licenses acupuncturists, and many health insurance plans cover the service, but most do so only on a limited basis, by restricting the number of visits or the dollar amount of coverage.
Forty-four states license acupuncturists. Fifteen states, not including Massachusetts, license naturopathic physicians, who use natural remedies in their treatment.
Many practioners of alternative medicine say mainstream caregivers don’t want the competition.
But the American Medical Association says there is little evidence to confirm the safety or efficacy of most alternative practices. “Much of the information currently known about these therapies makes it clear that many have not been shown to be efficacious,’’ the association said in a policy statement. The association denies that it is trying to stifle competition and says it is only trying to ensure that medicine is based on science.
Dr. Harriet Hall, a retired Air Force flight surgeon who examines medical claims for Skeptic magazine, said she worries that ill-informed members of Congress will elevate practitioners of alternative medicine to the same level as medical doctors.
“If it were shown to be truly effective, it would be part of regular medicine,’’ she said.