In 1989, as an 8 year practitioner, I was angry at the state of politics in New York. Not being one to be idle, I was determined to right the ship, so a group of five professionals got together and had a decision to make. Should we infiltrate the current state organization and “right the ship,” or should we create another organization, as the existing one was too flawed and would waste too much time and energy to correct?
Our arguments were compelling; there was verified corruption, a political machine that best served those in power and their friends and, worse, our reputation with state legislators was an embarrassment, as it was negatively affecting our political agenda. As a result, we five created an organization that is still quite vibrant and active in New York chiropractic politics.
I was a key figure in that organization and its activities for almost ten years, having served almost every position and having raised approximately $500,000 for the organization in a five year period. I was active in our state legislature; forging many relationships that served our profession well…. You get the picture.
“The biggest problem I have in supporting chiropractic is you can’t even get together within your own profession. Therefore, I get conflicting information that makes me lean towards the opposition.”
During that same ten year period, the biggest problem I had was neutralizing the competitor’s organization, so it would not stand in the way of our legislative agenda. The result (the truth), I am a self-proclaimed political failure, as I raised the money, made the right political connections, hosted the right party’s fund raisers for candidates, got invited to the right events, was placed on the right committees and was recognized for being instrumental in helping candidates reach their goals. I was a hit for many years in New York politics!
Where did it get chiropractic in New York State? Nowhere! It has been twenty years since I first made that decision to “right the ship” and chiropractors in New York State have gotten virtually nowhere in those twenty years, with multiple organizations contributing to that failure, and I am personally accountable for that.
Last month, when the national debate was heating up on national health care reform, I searched both the ACA and ICA web sites for a way to communicate with my national legislators supporting chiropractic. As I am a member of both national organizations, I went to both web sites. The ACA’s www.chirovoice.com and the ICA’s www.adjustthevote.com are both great vehicles to support chiropractic. Both organizations have a program, and which one is more effective is not relevant to this conversation. The point is that both organizations paid to have the exact same service for the chiropractic profession.
The national organizations, just like the state organizations, have a political agenda to further chiropractic. How many senators, congressman and legislators get one meeting from each organization? Even if both organizations want the same thing, my experience is that there are two different messages delivered and that is confusing to a legislator who is hearing a third message from the opposition and sometimes multiple opposition messages.
The answer given to me by a New York State Senator still resounds in my head years later: “The biggest problem I have in supporting chiropractic is you can’t even get together within your own profession. Therefore, I get conflicting information that makes me lean towards the opposition.”
He was right then, and still is today, because we have continued to send multiple messages nationally, and locally.
To help resolve this issue, the Chiropractic Summit was created to help give a unified voice legislatively on Medicare reform and national health care reform. The Chiropractic Summit now has forty different organizations with both national and local organizations participating. According to Dr. Lewis Bazakos, Chairman of the Chiropractic Summit, “It is a giant step towards unifying our message and critical to the success of the chiropractic legislative agenda, but it’s still not enough.”
Dr. Bazakos is right and the nation should listen to him very carefully. Whether or not you like his politics, we owe a great debt of gratitude to doctors like him who have given back to the profession for their entire career through public service and we should go one step further. We should listen to him. His words scream for reform in order for chiropractic to succeed for generations to come.
This Chiropractic Summit is yet another forum of critical necessity because we are split as a profession. How much time and money is wasted because we have two national organizations?
The United States currently has a two party system to debate the issues and there are mechanisms of checks and balances in our Constitution that have served this country well since 1776 with one president. Not so for the chiropractic profession; we have two federal organizations that have no checks and balances. Each has its own president, constitution and agenda that has two directions, two messages and two sets of beaurocracies to fund. We have two of everything that this profession can ill afford to waste its resources on.
Look at the profit and loss statements of both national organizations. How much money is spent on duplicitous rent, secretaries, web sites, journals, newsletters, mailings, mail-in votes, etc.? How much longer can we keep squandering our resources while chiropractic is stuck in the mud politically and where a chiropractor isn’t considered worthy enough to take or order any imaging through Medicare?
I teach MRI interpretation and am certified by my state’s education department, in addition to being approved to render AMA Credits on teaching spine MRI interpretation through a medical school, yet I am not even allowed by the Medicare program to order an MRI, whereas dentists, who have no training, can order any imaging they want in the federal programs. Disgusting!
Every state only needs one organization. I have lived through that grievous error and, nationally, we, too, need only one organization. Within each organization there can be committees that serve the needs of every chiropractor in every state. Principled, straight, mixers, subluxation-based, structural based, wellness or pain-based practitioners; it’s all a bunch of nonsense.
Open your eyes and realize that a chiropractic organization is a political organization and nothing more. It exists to further the chiropractic profession and ensure that every chiropractor in your state or the country has the ability and right to care for every citizen of the United States. Its real purpose is nothing more than that. Under the umbrella of that organization is where individual agendas should exist regarding furthering issues such as extremity adjusting, nutrition, pediatric care, etc. It doesn’t matter the issue. In the end, supporting a separate organization will erode chiropractic. Ask me; I have lived through it.
In retrospect, back in 1989, in spite of the corruption, the cronyism, and the political machine that was not serving all of us, I should have worked tirelessly to get that organization “righted” instead of splintering the profession in my state. The result would have served chiropractic and our patients better. The following is a direct message to those who serve our national organizations: We support, applaud and appreciate your public service and owe each of you a large debt of gratitude. I, personally, know the sacrifices you have made with your family, practice, time and money to help me and the rest of the profession to ensure our rights to practice as we choose. However, in spite of the glorious history of both the ACA and the ICA, it is past time that we have one organization, one voice and a lot more money to further our profession. It is time to create one organization and merge.
Dr. Mark Studin is the President of CMCS
Management which offers the Lawyers Marketing Program,Family/MD Marketing Program and Compliance Auditing services. He can be contacted at www.TeachChiros.com or call 1-631-786-4253