How the Health Care Reform Bill affects industry

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Health care

Industry groups are highlighting benefits that may flow to the dietary supplements and complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) sectors as a result of the landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that has been passed by Congress.

The Bill will make it more difficult for the mainstream medical community to discriminate against CAMs and is likely to provoke schemes that will promote the use of certain dietary supplements.

According to the Natural Products Association, ‘community health center demonstration projects’ will establish programs to:

  • Give omega-3 oils to those suffering cardiovascular problems
  • Give omega-3 oils to pregnant women
  • Give vitamin D and calcium to the elderly

“We are hugely excited by these measures,” ​said Dan Fabricant, PhD, the NPA’s vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs.

He said the projects may kick into action in 2-3 years, and follow a letter on the subject dated December 9, 2009, in which President Obama stated the broad intention of the centers as being, “to treat the ‘whole patient’ and focus on chronic disease management to reduce the use of costlier providers of care, such as emergency rooms and hospitals.”

Better integration

In regard to CAMs, Michael McGuffin, the president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), said botanicals would have their stakes raised in the US healthcare system.

“The new health care law is a starting point for a broader inclusion of CAM within the US healthcare system,”​ said McGuffin.

“If managed properly, greater inclusion of alternative practitioners in health care should open a pathway for increased acceptance of the dietary supplement products they provide.”

AHPA said section 4206 would affect dietary supplements for which there are FDA-approved health claims by setting up a pilot program for ‘wellness plans’.

Approved claims such as soluble fiber and coronary heart disease; and folic acid and neural tube birth defects, could benefit.

AHPA also highlighted anti-discrimination, section 2706.

Section 2706 states: "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 health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider's license or certification under applicable State law."

AHPA also highlighted section 5101, that establishes a National Healthcare Workforce Commission to work with the US Department of Health and Human Services; and section 3502, which creates "community health teams,"​ defined to include, among others, "licensed complementary and alternative medicine practitioners."


But Virginia-based food industry attorney, Jonathan W Emord, was critical of the legislation.

“By compelling almost all Americans to buy a specific product – health insurance – the bill violates the Fifth Amendment protections for individual liberty,”​ he said.

“That constriction on freedom of choice forces those who wish to rely on unconventional care, including nutrition, to expend thousands of dollars annually on conventional care coverage they may not want or need. The consequence will be to discourage the choice of alternative care, including supplementation, in favor of conventional care covered by insurance.”

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