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Treating the Health Care Crisis: Complementary and Alternative Medicine for the Affordable Care Act

This summary by Dr. Ryan Abbott, MD, JD, MTOM, an associate professor at Southwestern Law School, covers an article published in the DePaul Journal of Health Care that argues that the health care reform law has not done enough to integrate CAM. The article advocates for a system of limited intellectual property protection to incentivize new CAM-based research and development.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) intends to take American health care in a new direction by focusing on preventive medicine and wellness-based treatment. But, in doing so, it does not adequately take into account the potential contribution of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM is already used by a large and growing number of individuals in the United States, although to date there is limited scientific evidence to support the efficacy of most CAM treatments.

This article proposes statutory reforms to PPACA to encourage CAM research and development (R&D), and the use of demonstrably effective CAM treatments. A system of limited intellectual property protection modeled after the Orphan Drug Act, and/or government prizes based on Food and Drug Administration regulatory approval, may be the best option for incentivizing R&D on CAM, along with increased funding for research through the National Institutes of Health. PPACA should require health insurance plans to reimburse for evidence-based CAM and empower an existing government agency (NCCAM) to regulate CAM standards and to recommend evidence-based CAM services. Together these policy and funding mechanisms should help reduce U.S. healthcare costs and improve quality of life. 

To read the complete article, click here.

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