White House Commission Recommends Expanded Federal Coverage for Alternative Therapies
The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine has recommended that the Bush administration consider expanding federal funding of alternative therapies and creating a national office to study such treatments, the AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. The commission was established by former President Bill Clinton and spent two years and $2 million devising a national policy on alternative treatments. Last week, the commission sent its recommendations to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who will decide which recommendations, if any, the administration should consider. The panel's recommendations include:
- Medicare and other federal health programs should consider paying for "safe and effective" alternative therapies and should begin demonstration projects to determine the best therapies.
- HHS should consider beginning a national program to teach and promote nutrition, stress management, exercise and proven alternative therapies to schoolchildren.
- HHS should consider increasing its research of alternative therapies and establishing a national office to coordinate such research.
- Congress should consider requiring dietary supplement makers to register with the FDA to ensure that consumers are aware of potential side effects.
- Congress should consider providing more funding to the Federal Trade Commission to "better target" false or misleading advertising of alternative therapies and should consider teaching consumers "how to evaluate claims found on the Internet and elsewhere."
Advocates of alternative therapies estimate that about four out of 10 Americans use some form of alternative treatment, including acupuncture, hypnosis and herbal supplements (Neergaard, AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3/15). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.