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Analysis of the Final WHCCAMP Report

Transmittal Letters**

[Comments by Stephen Barrett, M.D.]

The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Mr. Secretary:

In accordance with Executive Order 13147, I am pleased to submit to you the Final Report of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. The Report contains administrative and legislative recommendations and action strategies to maximize the benefits of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to all Americans. [This falsely implies that there are many "CAM" benefits that need "maximizing."]

The Commission consisted of 20 business leaders, academicians, physicians, and other health care professionals from both conventional and CAM backgrounds. [This is a deliberate misrepresentation. The Commission was strongly biased. Nearly all of its members are philosophically aligned and economically involved with the so-called "CAM" movement.] This diverse group brought considerable knowledge and expertise to the complex issues surrounding the Nation's health care system. In addition, many individuals came forward to provide valuable perspectives and information to the Commission's deliberations in the 4 Town Hall meetings held around the country and the 10 public sessions in Washington, D.C. [The vast majority were "CAM" advocates. Most critics thought that the Commission was so biased that it would be a waste of time to testify.]

Of foremost importance to the Commission was the safety of the American public. As you may know, a large number of people are using CAM practices and products, some of which are lacking in scientific evidence or adequate information on their possible benefits and risks. In each area of the report, the Commission sought to balance the public's right to choose among different types of health care and the State and Federal governments' responsibility for ensuring that practitioners are qualified and products are safe. ["Emphasizing" safety might seem like a reasonable thing to do. However, the Commission deliberately avoided considering the extent to which methods marketed as "CAM" are ineffective.]

The report has sections on research, education and training, information development and dissemination, access and delivery, coverage and reimbursement, and wellness. Each section describes current and future challenges and policy opportunities that will help shape the health care system for years to come. [The Commission's recommendation might further the goals and ambitions of Commission members, but they offer almost nothing of benefit to the American public.]

Of the many recommendations in this Report, I would like to call your attention to a few that are worthy of immediate attention. First, the Commission recommends the establishment of an office within the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate activities in the Federal sector. [This falsely assumes that such an office is needed. It would be interesting to know what role Dr. Gordon envisions for himself in this setup.] It also recommends increased funding for research of CAM practices and products so that safety and effectiveness can be established. [This falsely assumes that there are many safe and effective "CAM" interventions that are the scientific community is neglecting.] Results from these studies will facilitate informed decisions on coverage and reimbursement policies. The report stresses the importance of improving the quality of information available on CAM and making it more easily accessible to consumers, particularly information on dietary supplements. Finally, it recommends an increased emphasis on wellness and prevention for Americans of all ages. [This falsely assumes that "CAM" methods offer something beyond standard science-based public health methods.]

Sincerely,

James S. Gordon, M.D., Chair
White House Commission on Complementary
and Alternative Medicine Policy

_______________

**Identical letters were drafted for signature by Secretary Thompson for distribution to President Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney (as President of the Senate), and Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House of Representatives. However, the letters Mr. Thompson sent read as follows:

I submit to you the Final Report of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy in accordance with Executive Order 13147. The Report contains administrative and legislative recommendations.

The Department appreciates the time and effort taken by the Commission to examine this area in detail. We are forwarding the Report to you and making it available to the public immediately. We will review carefully the recommendations addressed to the Department, and I am sending copies of the full Report to Congressional leaders.

Sincerely,

Tommy G. Thompson

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This article was posted on March 29, 2002.