Grassroots politics is the main reason why most state laws include chiropractic coverage. Chiropractors of long ago were political animals in supporting candidates and mobilizing their patients in legislative races. Typically, organized medical doctors sit in their ivory towers using megamoney to influence legislators and elections. Chiropractors, while contributing to some campaigns, typically go a step further by being active in the campaigns. Unfortunately, grassroots politics is a dying art, simply because some practitioners believe that the ability to practice chiropractic and be reimbursed for it is a God-given right. The fact is that every law passed, modality used, or procedure granted is determined by the legislative process. We must all work to garner support and mobilize the masses for all of our patients, future patients, and our great profession.
PAC funds can contribute significantly to the electing of pro-chiropractic candidates. It is crucial to get your money's worth because some PAC funds pour money into certain campaigns that can never pay off for them. It is unwise and unfair to PAC contributors if the PAC chairman and its officials do not take out as much guess work as possible in screening candidates for their fairness. Finding out who the candidate has to answer to because of geographic location, financial backers, hospital and medical support, etc., is of utmost importance.
There is a fallacy that PAC money buys you votes. Wrong! PAC money alone only buys you lobbying access. We cannot match money with medicine and the medically infiltrated insurance industry. If we spend a million, they can spend three. PAC funds must be in conjunction with coalitions able to affect large blocks of votes. PACs are essential as they contribute to the success of our legislation, provided coalitions have been built that the legislator must answer to.
Our profession, especially on a national level, has been remiss in building coalitions that can and will take on organized medicine. Chiropractic cannot politically match up with organized medicine one-on-one.
Our largest national association thinks that two-thirds makes a whole. Yes, they have grassroots and a PAC, but they have no real coalition, and subsequently they have no real power. A real coalition does not mean joining forces with optometrist, psychologist, podiatrist (although helpful): it means building real power with either business and industry, or labor. Since the AMA and the insurance industry is interwoven into business and industry, we should look toward labor. We face the same injustices the working men and women of this country once faced. The pendulum of power is swinging towards labor again, and it is important that we build a strong coalition with them. After all, isn't it the working men and women of this country that have made all of our practices successful. We cannot even the sides against organized medicine any other way. Yet this profession's political leadership continues to ask for everyone to come on board that same ship that has yet to show its seaworthiness in the waters of ERISA, Medicare, Longshoreman and Harbor Act, etc. -- two-thirds does not make a whole and it never will.
In the United States, we have fewer doctors in the chiropractic profession than Disney World has employees, so we cannot expect to get results politically until our political leaders decide to take real direction by forming real coalitions; then we will get real results. Until then, your membership will be solicited, not based on past results, not based on the capability and power to provide results, but based on your fear to survive. Urge your national association to form the coalitions we all need to survive. If all of us do not play, we will surely pay.
Joseph A. Stagni, D.C.