The Indian Health Service (IHS) has retained complementary medicine occupations, including chiropractic, in its Federal Loan Repayment Program. This reversed an earlier proposal to remove these occupations based upon a low response rate from a survey to Tribal Health Directors asking them to rate the importance of occupations.
The Federal IHS Loan Repayment Program was published in the Federal Register (February 4th, 2013) and retains inclusion of Chiropractic, Acupuncture and Naturopathy as eligible occupations. The inclusion of 28 professions in the repayment program was first published in the January 12, 2012 Federal Register.
The Priority Categories Survey was determined to have significant weakness in its format, distribution and response mechanisms. The survey was sent to Tribal Health Centers, Urban Indian Health Centers, IHS facilities and other sites, asking the medical directors to rate the importance of various professions from low to medium to high. The survey did not state that only “high priority” were to be counted, nor was there follow-up or reminder notices sent. Of the 800 mailings sent, only 103 responses were received.
Chiropractic was listed as a high priority on responses received from four Tribal groups – Lac Vieux Desert Tribe, the Chippewa-Cree Tribe, the Sac & Fox Nation and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. It was later determined that the Tulalip Tribe had also responded, but the response was not counted because its “medium priority” for chiropractic was selected.
Based on faulty survey findings, there was a campaign to address the possible removal of complementary medicine occupations by IHS individuals. Support for inclusion came from four Tribal Health Centers and their respective DC’s having received LRP awards in 2012. They include the New York Mohawk St. Regis Tribe, Dr. Gerald Lauzon (Akwesasne); Pyramid Lake and the Walker River Tribes in Nevada, Dr. Adrian Emm (Paiute) and Southcentral Foundation (SCF) in Anchorage, Alaska, organized by Dr. Angela Michaud with support from Dr. Genevieve John (Mentasa), both full time DC’s at this large regional health center.
Other letters of support came from Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK); with assistance from Dr. Angela Michaud of Southcentral Foundation and former ACA Board of Governor member Dr. Bill Pfiefer, both of the Ketchikan Indian Community. The American Chiropractic Association provided Washington technical support.
It was requested that next year’s Priority Category Survey include more information about the survey’s impact, and include reminders for deadlines. An electronic survey has been discussed. The statement on Loan Repayment Program can be seen at: SURVEY
Applications will be accepted beginning February 15th. To qualify individuals must be employed full time at an IHS Indian Health Service, Tribal Health Center or Urban Indian Health Facility. Proof of outstanding College School Loans needs to be established. Other details apply, and applications should be sent to the Indian Health Service, attn: Ms Jackie Santiago.