Democratic presidential candidates aren’t the only ones trying to influence healthcare in America these days. Students in the Doctor of Chiropractic program at Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) traveled to Washington, D.C., Jan. 29-Feb. 1 for the ACA Engage Conference.
The students went to advocate on Capitol Hill for H.R. 3654, the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act. H.R. 3654 is intended to ensure that senior citizens have improved access to chiropractic’s non-drug approach to care and pain management. Medicare serves more than 55 million Americans, and currently limits the services doctors of chiropractic may provide for its patients.
Forty members of the Student American Chiropractic Association (SACA) chapter at CUKC attended the conference with Dr. Carl S. Cleveland III, CUKC president, and Dr. Richard Day, director of clinical operations for the CUKC Chiropractic Health Center.
Day said he attends ACA Engage to provide support and guidance for students as they network and advocate for the profession.
“We met with congressional leaders to ask their support for a bill that would give Medicare beneficiaries access to the same safe and effective chiropractic services that members of the military, veterans, and federal employees now enjoy,” Day said. “The value of getting our students involved in the inner workings of how to move the profession forward and how our system of government works cannot be understated.”
CUKC chiropractic student involvement in politics extends beyond the four-day conference in Washington, D.C.
According to Melissa Hirschman, SACA chapter president at CUKC, students began preparing for the trip nearly a year in advance.
“My fellow board members and I planned for this incredible trip since last February when we were elected,” Hirschman said. “It was extremely fulfilling to see all of our first time attendees out on the Hill making a difference, learning more about our profession, and having fun making connections.”
This year’s trip to Washington, D.C., marked Hirschman’s third and final time as a chiropractic student, though she has plans to return to the conference after graduation.
“I prioritize this conference because not only does it bring together all of the powerhouses of the chiropractic profession, but showing up for our patients and advocating for this legislation that is updating Medicare coverage is unparalleled,” Hirschman said.
CUKC student, and communications vice chair for the University’s SACA chapter, Annie Sexton, attended the conference for the third time this January.
“Being involved in advocacy as a student is extremely important as we can directly benefit from the work we are doing on the ground in Washington, D.C., once we graduate,” Sexton said.
Madison Werth, CUKC student, and chapter secretary for the Student Kansas Chiropractic Association, also advocated in Washington, D.C., this January and is passionate about patient access to care.
“We, as healthcare providers, should always be patient-centered first and foremost,” Werth said. “If we cannot get our patients what they need, then we are not doing our job.”
Engage is the annual conference hosted by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), formerly known as the National Chiropractic Leadership Conference. In addition to advocating for patients and the chiropractic profession, students and nearly 700 of their fellow chiropractic professionals attending the conference participated in educational seminars, networking events, award assemblies, and leadership development activities, and sightseeing excursions.
ACA Engage 2021 is scheduled for Feb. 3-6, 2021.