For the first time, two naturopathic physicians, (ND’s) have been appointed to the Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee (MCAC), a group convened under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, Jr., co-founder and President Emeritus of Bastyr University and Dr. Pamela Snider, Associate Dean, Public and Professional Affairs at Bastyr, were recently appointed to MCAC by Thomas A. Scully, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The committee, chartered by the Secretary of HHS in November of 1998, is charged with advising the Centers on effective and appropriate medical services that are covered or eligible for coverage under Medicare. While the 100 individuals serving on the committee represent a wide range of scientific and medical professions, Drs. Pizzorno and Snider are the first naturopathic physicians to be appointed.
“These appointments are part of a promising trend,” said Dr. Pizzorno who also served on the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy in 2001-2002. “Every opportunity for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and conventional medicine to work together translates to a greater potential for solving our healthcare problems. Last week, Tommy Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, emphasized the critical importance of devoting resources to prevention, noting that 43% of Americans suffer from a chronic disease. He also said he wanted to expand coverage of preventive services under Medicare. This reflects the leadership we need to assure that more people enjoy healthier lives.”
“The staggering number of individuals with chronic disease is a significant contributing factor in skyrocketing health care costs, amounting to a national disease debt, ” added Dr. Pamela Snider. “By devoting resources to the prevention of these diseases, and to health promotion for all communities, we will be able to better serve other health concerns, such as reducing costs. CAM’s history of incorporating prevention in its practice and philosophy will be of benefit as we work together to solve the complex problems of health care.”
Drs. Pizzorno and Snider will attend their first meeting on February 11 in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Pizzorno is currently President of Salugenecists, Inc., which produces web-based personalized health promotion advice systems. He also serves as Senior Advisor to Bastyr University President, Thomas C. Shepherd and Executive Editor of Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal. Dr. Snider is co-investigator on a grant funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the North American Naturopathic Medical Research Agenda as well as CAM advisor on a NCCAM/NIH grant on Financing Integrative Health Care with the University of Washington. She also co chairs the executive leadership team for the Collaboration for Health Care Renewal Foundation and serves on the advisory committee for the Washington State Health Professional Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program.