Healthcare Reform in Oregon

I know I’ve talked about it on this blog before (primarily here) – I’m a very firm believer that insurance should, in some shape or form, cover massage treatment. Fleshing out this argument can get tricky, discussing what exactly qualifies as a medical necessity (physical need? emotional need?), or whether massage should be considered part of both preventative care and acute treatment. But the point remains that, in some sense, massage is a medical treatment, and sometimes it’s the best option for a specific situation (like, for example, muscle pain).

Anyway. That’s the background; that’s my opinion on the whole thing. So what?

Well, it turns out that the state of Oregon is in the process of creating an affordable healthcare option for all its citizens. The Oregon Health Authority is currently fleshing out details of its plan. Lots and lots of details. How best to improve health, increase quality and availability of care, and lower costs? As you can imagine, there’s a lot of planning that needs to go into it.

And this is great. Affordable, accessible, quality healthcare should be a universal right. But as for the details…

Will the healthcare plans adopted by the OHA include complementary/alternative treatments? Specifically, will it include massage coverage? There are a million reasons why it should, but the reality is that massage won’t be covered unless we (that is, the massage therapists, the professional organizations and their lobbyists) communicate with the OHA and push for recognition.

I know that the Oregon acupuncturist board is pushing and lobbying the government to get acupuncture included in whatever healthcare plan gets created. I emailed my local massage chapter to see what they’re doing and if I could help, but it turns out they aren’t doing anything. They don’t have much of a budget as it is, and they have no real plans to talk to the OHA.

Besides, wrote the woman in response to my inquiry, “there is still a substantial portion of the population who still views massage as a luxury and not a necessity”.

Right… but that’s just my point. People think things that aren’t necessarily true – including the idea that massage has no benefits beyond the most general sense of “feeling good”. And the best way to fix this misperception is by getting massage (rightfully) included in the new healthcare reform and thus considered a viable treatment option.

Since there isn’t already a massage group lobbying the OHA, for now it’s up to me. I’m educating myself on the OHA action plan [pdf], and eventually writing a letter to someone in charge. Sounds like fun!

In short, I’m planning on changing the world, or at least trying to make a state-wide impact. My effort might not actually amount to much, but I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

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