Possible silver lining of the Affordable Care Act is in jeopardy

This may come as a surprise, but I do support one section of the new Affordable Care Act–Section 2706. This section requires “non-discrimination in health care.” Unfortunately, it may never see the light of day, if certain factions in Washington have anything to do with it.

Basically, Section 2706 allows you to seek care outside the mainstream medical system. So, if you want to visit natural, nutritional, alternative, complementary, and integrative practitioners, you can. For example, it would allow you to visit licensed chiropractors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, massage therapists, and certified professional midwives. And your insurance policy must cover at least part of your visit. In other words, they can’t discriminate against providers…even “alternative” providers.

My friend, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is the key sponsor of this non-discrimination section of the new law. He has been a champion for natural approaches in medicine for more than a quarter-century.

But as I said, this section of the new law may never see the light of day. Not surprisingly, certain groups in Washington are trying their best to keep natural health care out of Obamacare.

First of all, Congress and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS) continue to spar over the intent of the Affordable Care Act. The US DHHS declared that insurance plans and individual states can use “reasonable medical management techniques.” This essentially allows them to ignore the non-discrimination section of the law. But Senator Harkin and a few others are trying to make sure the US DHHS follows the intent of the law as it was written. Even Section 2706.

But there’s another faction out to squash Section 2706.

In fact, seven medical specialty societies oppose Section 2706. And they are backing another law that would entirely gut this non-discrimination section of the Affordable Care Act, if passed. The self-appointed medical specialty groups acting against your right to choose are anesthesiologists, dermatologists, family physicians, obstetricians, ophthalmologists, otolaryngologists (ENT), and plastic surgeons. My guess is they want to get rid of it because they fear it will hurt their business.

As you know, I can’t place much credence into the opinions and ideas of medical specialty societies. These societies, such as the American Society of Anesthesiologists, have no legal status. They are entirely private entities. They organize themselves. They create their own rules. And they have exclusive membership. Plus, they decide amongst themselves which licensed doctors can provide what kinds of services to which patients. They also determine whether these doctors will have privileges in public and private hospitals.

Anesthesiologists already use their influence over Congress, the US DHHS, and the FDA to require dangerous, expensive, and unnecessary procedures. These procedures limit the choices of other physicians and their patients. And they waste hundreds of millions of dollars each year while exposing unsuspecting patients to needless risks. (I wrote about this problem in the September issue of Insiders’ Cures. If you do not yet subscribe to my monthly newsletter, now is the perfect time to get started.)

In the real economy, we would call these practices “restraint of trade.” And they would be illegal under anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws.

Fortunately, not all medical doctors or medical societies are aligned with these repressive efforts. Many good minds believe we should have equal access to natural approaches. Including my friend Tom Harkin.

The Affordable Care Act has no chance at all for any real healthcare reform without this non-discrimination provision. So please, write to your congressional representative in support of Section 2706. It’s one good provision in the Affordable Care Act.