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How the Affordable Care Act Impacts Homeopathy: An Update

When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was being drafted, NCH was very proactive in working with the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) to create a definition of the national healthcare workforce that was inclusive of integrative practitioners. This definition was included in the ACA, which was then passed into US law. 
This is important because the national healthcare workforce are those healthcare professionals who are eligible to participate in healthcare efforts in governmental programs like the Veterans Administration (VA), public health clinics, etc.
According to the ACA, the national healthcare workforce includes:
  • licensed practitioners (physicians, nurses, chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists etc)
  • state certified practitioners (such as certified midwives, certified respiratory therapists, etc)
  • practitioners certified by a certifying organization that is nationally accredited by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE)

Credentialing and the ACA

The last category in the definition is the most important one for homeopaths – and is what integrative discipline representatives worked diligently to get included in the final language of the bill. The Council for Homeopathic Certification (CHC) offers the CCH (Certified in Classical Homeopathy) credential for homeopaths. The CHC is currently pursuing accrediting the CCH credential with the ICE; this is a rigorous process that can take 2-5 years to complete. After this is completed, homeopaths with the CCH certification will meet the criteria of inclusion in the national healthcare workforce, as defined by the ACA. In order for homeopaths to be included in integrative healthcare settings, the profession needs to show that expected professional standards in health care education and skills verification have been followed. These are the same standards that are required of every health care discipline.
For example, imagine yourself as a VA administrator who has recently seen excellent results for veterans with head trauma and depression after homeopathic care and you now want to include homeopathy in several of the health departments in your VA hospital. As you take your proposal for inclusion to the hospital governing board, they may reasonably want to know what the criteria would be for a homeopath to be allowed to work in these programs. In other words, how do you identify a competent, safe, capable homeopath? The CCH credential can provide that verification and will help answer the following questions:
  • Does the credentialing follow the same professional standards that every other health profession in the VA hospital follows?
  • Has the certifying agency been verified?  
Without national accreditation to show that the certification process follows professional best standards as required in health care professions, the institution would not be able to accept the credential. Government public health department clinics would be in the same situation. This CHC's accreditation of the CCH credential is a very important step forward for our emerging homeopathic profession. For more information on the status of the CHC's accreditation project, contact the CHC office at (866) 242-3399.

Cover My Care

In addition to the accreditation of the homeopathic credential as a milestone for inclusion of homeopathy in the ACA, there is another exciting campaign called Cover My Care launching in September of 2014, 
The 'Cover My Care' campaign is a web-based social media initiative designed to educate the public and state officials about non-discrimination in healthcare. Although the non-discrimination section is part of the ACA law, it is up to the states to enforce it. 
Within the Affordable Care Act, there is a section on non-discrimination in health care called Section 2706. The actual language of Section 2706 is as follows:
“…a group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall not discriminate with respect to participation under the plan or coverage against any healthcare provider who is acting within the scope of that provider's license or certification under applicable State law.”
This means that if an insured person with back pain chose to go to a naturopath using homeopathy, or a chiropractor using manual adjustment, instead of a medical doctor offering drugs or surgery, then the insurance company should pay for it.
Currently it is common for an insurer to deny payment to a naturopath or chiropractor, even when that practitioner is acting within the scope of his or her license, and cover payment only for an MD practitioner. This makes it difficult for an insured person to get coverage for the integrative care he/she wants - like homeopathy! 
The Cover My Care campaign will provide consumers and practitioners with advocacy tools and contact information for state officials to help them to persuade their states to make sure that insurers comply with the law. NCH is actively involved supporting this campaign. There will be more information about this in coming months as the project launches.