Why Two?

By Robert Braile, D.C.

I wish I had a nickel for each time I was asked over the years about why there are two national organizations in chiropractic. Why is there an International Chiropractors Association? And why should I believe in, and pay dues either ICA or ACA? Why don’t we have just one national organization?

The answer to this question lies clearly in what your priorities and values are. If you are concerned about the fundamental principles of chiropractic being preserved for the unique offering chiropractic gives humanity, then your answer is that you want an organization representing you with that focus in mind. If your concern is primarily how to improve chiropractic’s professional status and reimbursement, then you may see two organizations as redundant effort.

I guess the best way to judge the question of why, is by looking at what would happen if there was only one national organization over the past few decades. What would have happened locally and nationally if there was only one voice representing all of chiropractic during the various challenges and issues we have faced.

On the issue of drugs in chiropractic, clearly here we have two different organizational views both on a state and national level. I think it is clear that the ICA has definitively defined their stand as being non-drug. But, specifically on a state level, just how far would the Florida legislature have gone in turning chiropractic into “chiropractic medicine” had there not been an ICA or the Florida Chiropractic Society’s voice of opposition? Just how far would the Florida practice act have been “manipulated” to remove all ties to subluxations and turn our profession into second class osteopathy? How many other states would have drifted toward allopathy if there had been no opposing voice?

On a national level, I can tell you that there have been numerous occasions where the ICA and the ACA found themselves on opposite sides of an issue related to legislation. In several instances, the ICA stood firmly on preserving subluxation language in legislation and federal record when others would have left it out. In one such example the ICA stood up for primary access in the veteran’s program while others voted for access thorough medical gatekeeper. What would have happened if there were not an ICA voice in these issues?

What would the chiropractic profession’s response to the vaccination issue be if there was only one voice? I know the ICA has clearly stated their opposition to mandatory vaccinations and their belief in freedom of choice on this issue. But how many times have we seen other chiropractic organizations shrink away from this issue so as not to appear politically incorrect in a medically minded world.

If there were not two voices we would all currently be exclusively be under the yolk of practicing according to the Mercy practice guidelines document? The ICA voted their opposition to Mercy when other organizations showed their support.

If we think about it, there is a long list of areas where our very practices and lives would be radically different if there were not a specific voice protecting that which we hold to be the essence of chiropractic. Ask yourself what would happen if there were only one voice with issues such as chiropractic procedures such as surface EMG, video fluoroscopy, as well as a adjusting techniques, such as Orthospinology, upper cervical, Chiropractic Biophysics, Torque Release, Network, Kale, Toftness, and a host of other techniques.

What would happen to chiropractic pediatrics? What would happen to family practice? What would happen to volume practices? What restrictions would be placed on what you could say or do in patient education?

Recently there was a battle in Alabama where a doctor is being attacked by the Alabama State Board for such a ghastly offence as making statements on their website like,. “Where your health and wellness comes first” and “Will chiropractic help me? - Yes” (This is an exact quotes from Alabama State Board complaint. And no, the text clearly goes on to explain that there is no guarantee of results). The ICA has already gotten involved in this battle. If there was not an association like the ICA available to speak up for these issues would we be able to continue to say that chiropractic can help people?

I have read with interest the ongoing rhetoric by some about “merger”. The mantra behind this discussion always goes to the issue of having one voice. My concern has always been what will that one voice say? Will it stand for the subluxation? Will it stand for pediatric chiropractic care? Will it stand for volume practices?

If all we are concerned about is getting better reimbursement then on the surface merger sounds like a good idea. However, the premise that one chiropractic voice will increase our financial standing is ludicrous. Do we really believe that the insurance industry will just lay down at the thought of one association? Do we really think that we are so macho as to be able to change the direction of third party pay just by having one association?

If we are honest with ourselves and look back at our past victories, all of them were won by the consumer! The public dictates what they want in healthcare, and what gets paid for. Our way to make change in this area is to harness the consumer’s desires and political clout.

I am all for one voice, when that voice does not betray the essence of the principles of our profession. But who says that one voice must come from merger? Can we not speak with a united front maintaining our unique values in separate organizations? If we did not have these unique views, then we would automatically speak with one voice. By attempting for force a merger, all that will be accomplished is to attempt to silence the voices and views of those not in a numerical majority. One organization does nothing to bring unity of thought or principle. Education can only do that. And if someday education brought about one united direction and thought, then merger would not be needed as we would already be working together on the highest levels.

While the specifics of some states may be different, on a general basis, and especially on a national basis, there MUST be a separate voice of reason representing the conservative, principled approach to chiropractic care. There must be an ICA.

Illigitimati non Carborundum