Texas Chiropractor Loses Bid for Legislature
Due to the resignation of a sitting Representive, a Special Election was recently held to fill the vacancy in District 50 in Travis County (Austin). Mike VanDeWalle DC, a chiropractor from that District, ran for the seat. VanDeWalle, a Republican, member of the Texas Chiropractic Association, past Editor of the Journal of the Texas Chiropractic Association, Member of the American Chiropractic Association and leader of a family of chiropractors lost the election in a run-off to a Democrat.
The rest is a story that on first blush appears to be from the 1970's and the AMA's Committee on Quackery.
In the midst of his campaign, the Texas Medical Association's Political Action Committee (TEXPAC) distributed anti VanDeWalle materials stating that he was "not being truthful about his occupation".
Stating that VanDeWalle referred to himself as a "physician" in his campaign literature TEXPAC distributed materials containing an image of a duck with the words Quack! Quack! Quack! prominently displayed along the top. In another TEXPAC placard aimed at VanDeWalle they listed Dr. Pepper, Dr. Jekyll and Dr. VanDeWalle and asked the reader: "What do these doctors have in common?"
"None are licensed by the Texas Medical Board to practice medicine in Texas"
The ad's go on to state: "Don't be misled by Mike VanDeWalle's phony 'PHYSICIAN' claims."
One of the ads goes on to explain that chiropractors in Texas are lobbying for legislation to allow non-medical school trained professions to practice medicine in Texas and calls such actions: QUACKERY (the capitals are theirs).
Voters are urged by the TMA not to support him or his lobby in order to protect patient healthcare in Texas.
In e-mails and social media some chiropractors defended VanDeWalle and portrayed the TMA's attacks as an attack on all of chiropractic and some chiropractic leaders even compared it to the AMA's illegal boycott of the chiropractic profession during the 60's and 70's.
The law governing the practice of chiropractic in Texas does not allow a licensed chiropractor to use the term physician. The law reads in part:
A person practices chiropractic under this chapter if the person: represents to the public that the person is a chiropractor; or (4) uses the term "chiropractor," "chiropractic," "doctor of chiropractic," "D.C.," or any derivative of those terms or initials in connection with the person's name.
VanDeWalle states on his website that he is a physician and in numerous instances in his campaign literature identifies himself as a doctor without any of the various designations of chiropractor as mandated and allowed by Texas law.
Despite protestations by some chiropractors that VanDeWalle is a good chiropractor, Gonstead practitioner and not supportive of drug rights for chiropractors or even scope expansion, VanDeWalle's own statements and allegiances seem to contradict assertions regarding scope.
For example VanDeWalle stated the following in his campaign literature:
"A prime example of that alarming trend is apparent in my own chosen profession as a Doctor of Chiropractic in Texas—a profession into which my son and daughter have followed. An unending storm of lawsuits, legislation, and dictates from state agencies have eroded our patients’ ability to get the kind of conservative treatment they want from providers like us who are trained and willing to provide it."
It is not known what "...unending storm of lawsuits, legislation and dictates from state agencies" he is he referring to and what training, in what procedures chiropractors have that they can't provide in Texas, but recent actions by the Texas Chiropractic Association and the Texas Board indicate it has everything to do with the scope expansion efforts by these groups.
Readers might recall that the Texas Board and the TCA attempted to expand the scope of practice. As a result of the chiropractors' actions, the TMA and the chiropractic board have been locked in legal battles and exchanges of threatening letters over vestibular ocular nystagmus testing (VONT), needle electromyography, manipulation under anesthesia, sports physicals, and use of the term “chiropractic neurology.” This then led to issues regarding the the definition of subluxation in the state. Ultimately subluxation saved chiropractic in the state of Texas and despite statements to the contrary none of this would have happened if the TCA and the Board had not attempted to expand the scope in the first place.
So any comparisons to the AMA's campaign and the Wilk Lawsuit to the shennanigans by chiropractors in Texas are delusional. The whole debacle was brought on the chiropractors by their own actions.
In campaign statements published on the internet VanDeWalle seemed to try and rally chiropractors to support him by continuing to harp on expanding scope.
"Imagine a future debate in which a well-informed, articulate Doctor of Chiropractic stands at the front microphone on the House Floor, correcting misstatements and myths so often spread about our profession; effectively fighting for equitable legislation. Imagine how different a debate about chiropractic scope of practice would be if a doctor of chiropractic could personally and authoritatively share facts with fellow members of the legislature about our education and the key role we play in lowering the costs of health care in Texas. Following our victory in the Texas Supreme Court, imagine the impact of another victory at this point in our history, and the building momentum to move our profession forward."
The Company You Keep
VanDeWalle promoted himself as a member of the Texas Chiropractic Association (TCA) which supported the efforts at scope expansion and he is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association which has a Policy embracing so called "State's Rights" when it comes to scope expansion.
This was a statement by the TCA endorsing Mike VanDeWalle:
"The TCA Political Action Committee (PAC) works to promote the inclusion of chiropractic and the improvement of Texas patients’ healthcare by raising funds and contributing to support worthy candidates for state office who have demonstrated their belief in the value of chiropractic and the legislative agenda of the Texas Chiropractic Association."
This states pretty clearly that he supports the legislative agenda of the TCA.
Here we have a state with a Board and a State Association that make no attempt to hide the fact that they want to expand the scope. We have precedent in the state where they attempted exactly that, on more than one occasion. VanDeWalle is a dues paying member of that state association and a member of the ACA which is on record as supporting "States Rights" when it comes to scope.
VanDeWalle then puts in writing statements that pretty clearly show that he wants chiropractors to be allowed to do everything they are trained to do and that he will fight for that.
Lesson for chiroractors who want to run for office: make sure you are congruent in word and deed and be proud to call yourself a chiropractor.
This one is on the chiropractic profession - or at least those who want to change what it is.