- The Integrative Health & Wellness Caucus held its first official meeting addressing patient-centered care and whole-person wellness initiatives.
The caucus, launched in October, 2017, aims to support patient needs in healthcare, stating that patients are key stakeholders who need plentiful information in order to make thoroughly-informed medical decisions. The stated goals of the caucus align with many patient-centered care goals advocated for throughout the medical industry.
“I think it’s important for patients to have all the facts and latest research when it comes to therapies and treatments available to them when making medical decisions,” said caucus co-founder Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO). “This is why, it was my honor to welcome the Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus members to Capitol Hill last week.”
The inaugural caucus meeting included members of Congress from Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah. Attendees also included representatives from the Department of Defense, VA, Air Force Medical Service, medical groups, insurers, hospitals, service providers, medical education institutes, healthcare lobbyists, and patient advocate groups.
Foremost, the attendees discussed how integrative, or patient-centered, care can help support the growing opioid crisis gripping the nation. Specifically, the group discussed how non-pharmacological and non-clinical pain management strategies could quell opioid prescribing and ideally curb misuse.
But that is just one of the initiatives for which the caucus plans to advocate, leaders said. Ultimately, the Integrative Health & Wellness Caucus plans on tackling elements of the medical industry that impacts patients by creating better supports for patients, according to Len Wisneski, MD, chair of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium.
“This caucus is the start of an important conversation to shift our healthcare paradigm from a reactive model to whole-person preventive outcomes,” Wisneski explained. “Americans have spent billions of dollars out-of-pocket on complementary and integrative care. It is time that Congress and healthcare payers and systems respond by including all credentialed and licensed providers and evidence-based care approaches into the choices available to all Americans.”
Ideally, the caucus should help communicate the need for a healthcare industry that focuses on prevention, wellness, and patient-centered care. Obtaining those goals should lead to lower healthcare costs and better outcomes, caucus members said.
“I was excited to be part of the inaugural congressional caucus proceedings,” said Peter F. Demitry, MD, MPH, Executive Director of the National Foundation for Integrative Medicine (NFIM) and former Assistant Air Force Surgeon General for Modernization. “The various organizations and stakeholders that attended and presented to Congress were very well informed with articulate, rational arguments that were well received by the United States legislators. I think there was clear consensus that the time to fix US health care policy is now and NFIM is happy to be both meeting and joining these various dedicated stakeholders.”
Representative Coffman started the Integrative Health & Wellness Caucus with Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) in October 2017 to “establish a non-partisan education forum for legislators to receive up-to-date information from experts related to best practices and new research, and to discuss legislative and administrative opportunities for integrative health,” the pair wrote in a statement announcing the caucus.
“Integrative and complementary therapies and treatments are an effective choice for many people on their journey to health and wellness,” Polis said at the time. “As we debate how we can further the health care system in the US, we must ensure that it is affordable and accessible to all - but also, we must ensure that it provides the best possible care available. That means investing in evidence-based integrative care. I am proud to launch this Caucus alongside my fellow Coloradan Rep. Mike Coffman, and hope that our collaboration serves as a reminder that bipartisanship can help us reach our goals in health care.”