Arizona: A Case Study in Monopolies & Ethics in Chiropractic Regulation

News Staff
Arizona: A Case Study in Monopolies & Ethics in Chiropractic Regulation

AZ Board & its Chair Wayne Bennett are a Case Study for Everything Wrong in Chiropractic Education, Licensing & Regulation

The intricate web of chiropractic education, regulation and practice has a thread running through it that ties the process of education, testing, licensing, regulation and practice together and keeps it under the control of a small group of people and private corporations. The organized efforts to control chiropractic by a small cohort of people who believe they know what's best for the profession and the public began in the 1970's.  The events occurring now in Arizona serve as a case study of the results of this phenomenon.

With a career deeply rooted in the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE), and the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB), Wayne Bennett DC has attempted to influence the profession his way far and wide. However, his appointment to the Arizona Board of Chiropractic Examiners in August 2019 brought to light concerns over the monopolistic control and potential ethical conflicts inherent in the chiropractic profession as detailed in an article from the same period.

CLICK Here for that story

Bennett's Involvement and Influence

The issues in Arizona have been brewing for awhile but just recently came to a head as the AZ Legislature accuses the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners of failing to uphold its duty to protect public health, safety, and welfare by not properly enforcing chiropractic practice laws as mandated by the Legislature, by failure to recognize the jurisdictional boundaries and overlaps with other state agencies and that the Board has strayed from its original legislative intent and purpose - among several other concerns.

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Wayne Bennett's role within the chiropractic community is multifaceted. Beyond his appointment to the Arizona Board of Chiropractic Examiners—a position that replaced the late Jim Badge and followed Martin Kolash's resignation—Bennett's tentacles reach deeply into several pivotal organizations that promote the move away from traditional, conservative chiropractic while marginalizing the practice of managing vertebral subluxation. As a diplomate with the American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedists and the American Board of Chiropractic Consultants, as well as his involvement with the American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians, Bennett has been a staunch advocate for these moves and has set himself up on a pedestal to criticize and judge how other chiropractors practice.

His presidency of the Arizona Association of Chiropractic and his position as the Arizona Delegate to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) underscore his deep ties to the faction of the profession that has abandoned its founding principles and seeks to force the profession into the lanes of organized medicine and restrict it to the management of musculoskeletal disorders.

However, Bennett's roles do not stop at this advocacy and representation. As the current Chairman of the Arizona Board of Chiropractic Examiners and an examiner for the NBCE, Bennett's influence extends to the regulation, licensing, and ethical standards within the field. His dual role as the Arizona delegate to both the FCLB and the NBCE places him at the nexus of chiropractic licensing and regulation.

Ethical Concerns and Monopolistic Control

The crux of the controversy surrounding Bennett and his associates lies in the monopolistic control exerted by the NBCE, FCLB and Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) over the chiropractic profession and the ACA's support of this. This control, critics argue, has led to a stifling of diversity within the field and an emphasis on policies that may not align with broader chiropractic standards and practices. The ACA's rebranding and adoption of standards of care, particularly affecting the management of vertebral subluxation, the use of spinal x-rays, scope expansion to include drugs etc have sparked debates within the chiropractic community. These standards, which diverge from traditional chiropractic practices, highlight the tension surrounding the preservation of chiropractic's core principles.

The issues surrounding the control of the entire educational, licensing and regulatory processes within the chiropractic profession being under the control of private corporations named in statutes while utilizing student loan money as well as state tax dollars and resources to further their efforts, has recently take center stage.

CLICK HERE for more on that story

The ethical implications of this monopolistic control are significant. When Bennett joined the AZ Board in 2019 the entire leadership of the Arizona Board of Chiropractic Examiners was composed of ACA members raising concerns about the objectivity and fairness of regulatory decisions in the state.

Numerous changes have occurred in AZ, including the make-up of the board, leaving Bennett as the only ACA member left on the Board. In addition to this, Arizona recently adopted "Universal Recognition" for licensure.

Arizona's approach to chiropractic licensure through "universal recognition" is a pioneering move designed to simplify the process for professionals moving into the state. This system, enacted following Governor Doug Ducey's urging and the subsequent passing of HB 2569, allows individuals who are already licensed in another state to obtain a comparable license in Arizona, provided they meet specific criteria.

While AZ allows for licensure from non-CCE accredited schools it still mandates NBCE exams and names the NBCE in the statute and, as noted, the AZ Board is still a member of the FCLB. Two private corporations benefitting from being named in the statute (as is the NBCE) or through membership and state representation with FCLB.

CLICK HERE for more on NBCE's troubles

CLICK HERE for more information on FCLB's troubles

The potential for conflicts of interest is exacerbated by the fact that board members are active market players, making decisions that could benefit themselves or the organizations they represent. Such a scenario raises questions about the integrity of chiropractic regulation and the ability of practitioners to operate within a diverse and open professional landscape.

Moving Forward: Scrutiny and Reform

As the chiropractic profession grapples with these issues, the call for increased scrutiny and reform grows louder. The involvement of individuals like Wayne Bennett and the private corporations they represent in multiple high-level positions within the regulatory and organizational framework of chiropractic raises important questions about the balance between professional advocacy and ethical governance. The increasing impatience among chiropractors toward the ongoing monopoly enjoyed by certain private organizations and using student loan money to do it underscores the need for a reevaluation of how the profession is regulated and governed.

In the context of the Arizona legislature to reign in a rogue board through SB 1233 and the broader debates over chiropractic practice in Arizona and elsewhere, Bennett's story serves as a microcosm of the challenges facing the profession. As policymakers, practitioners, and patients alike navigate these complex waters, the ultimate goal remains clear: to ensure that chiropractic care is delivered in a manner that is safe, effective, and ethical. Achieving this goal will require a delicate balance of regulation, autonomy, and above all, a commitment to the principles at the heart of chiropractic care.

McCoy Press