Steve Tullius DC
ACA infiltrated by Anti-Subluxation Special Interest Group

West Hartford Group takes over Key Leadership Positions

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) leadership has shifted dramatically. Once an umbrella group seeking to represent a wide spectrum of practice styles and philosophies, the ACA is now lead by those with clear ties to a group that seeks to remove segments of the profession and limit academic dialogue.

Throughout history, political groups have routinely orchestrated shifts by securing key leadership roles. With little interest in chiropractic politics from the field, the profession is opportune for such shifts, allowing a few individuals to promote their inner circle. That inner circle seems to be closely connected to a group recently making headlines within the profession. 

The West Hartford Group (WHG) is a self described “think tank” whose agenda is to gain cultural authority for the profession as non-surgical primary care spine specialists with potential drug privileges. In order to do that, they have laid out extreme measures requiring the removal of instructors and others within the segment of the profession that put forth a vitalistic perspective and focus on vertebral subluxation.

An essential part of their plan to shift the profession is clearly laid out in their objectives to “place WHG members within leadership of the machinery of the profession to promote WHG’s mission.” 1

Among key ACA leadership involved with the group is current ACA president Keith Overland, ACA vice president Anthony Hamm, and newly elected chairman Michael Simone. In addition, one ACA governor and four ACA delegates are also members of the secretive group.

WHG includes at least thirteen members who are full-time or part-time faculty at various chiropractic institutions that share the WHG philosophy, the chairman of the CCE and three CCE site team members, the editor of the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, and several members with executive board positions with their state associations.

The model advocated by the WHG is listed on their homepage in the following manner: “the chiropractic physician as the spinal health care expert within the health care system, i.e. society’s non-surgical spine specialist.” 2

That definition specifically leaves out reference to pharmaceutical agents, however, several highly influential WHG members have indicated that they are indeed for the expansion of the chiropractic scope to include prescriptive rights and are also involved in pro-prescriptive rights groups such as the American Academy of Chiropractic Physicians and the Florida Chiropractic Physicians Association.

A recent article from several of their members, indicated that such a specialist in addition to various manual therapies, would employ other “first-line treatments” such as “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and non-opioid analgesics.” 3 While the article indicated that many of these substances are available over-the-counter, the need for limited prescription rights as a tool for gaining “cultural authority” has been advocated by many WHG members and others in the profession. 4

Regarding the removal of educators and limiting institutions with differing views within the profession, the following quote from an article authored by several WHG members and linked from the a WHG webpage titled “Our Message” is provided:

“One of the problems that we encounter frequently in our interaction with chiropractic educational institutions is the perpetuation of dogma and unfounded claims. Examples include the concept of spinal subluxation as the cause of a variety of internal diseases and the metaphysical, pseudo-religious idea of "innate intelligence" flowing through spinal nerves, with spinal subluxations impeding this flow. These concepts are lacking in a scientific foundation [27-29] and should not be permitted to be taught at our chiropractic institutions as part of the standard curriculum. Much of what is passed off as "chiropractic philosophy" is simply dogma [30], or untested (and, in some cases, untestable) theories [27] which have no place in an institution of higher learning, except perhaps in an historical context. Faculty members who hold to and teach these belief systems should be replaced by instructors who are knowledgeable in the evidence-based approach to spine care and have adequate critical thinking skills that they can pass on to students directly, as well as through teaching by example in the clinic.” 5

WHG beliefs are made more clear in another quote below from the same paper.

“There can be no unity between the majority of non-surgical spine specialist chiropractic physicians and the minority of chiropractors who espouse metaphysical, pseudoreligious views of spinal subluxations as "silent killers" [47]. The latter minority group needs to be marginalized from the mainstream majority group, and no longer should unrealistic efforts be made toward unification of these disparate factions within the profession.” 5

A far cry from unity indeed. 

ACA has maintained that they are not for expansion of scope to include prescription rights, however, their leadership is highly involved in groups that believe otherwise. While, they claim to be for unity within the profession, it appears that unity must be through uniformity.

This is particularly concerning when the president of ACA releases misleading and erroneous statements. Throughout the recent CCE reaffirmation process, Dr. Overland repeatedly put forth that groups were attempting to delist the CCE. A position that was simply not true. Despite the third party testimony calling for reform of the CCE and NOT DELISTING at the NACIQI hearing, Dr. Overland saw fit to continue to release misinformation to persuade his members and students that groups were attempting to remove the CCE and not simply bring about changes that would cause our accrediting body to be more representative of the profession.

Just recently he again released a statement that stated that a group of chiropractors was trying to remove the CCE without giving any facts to support that statement. 6 The truth is that those criticizing the CCE are seeking proper representation, and policies and standards that reflect the profession of chiropractic. Given his involvement in the WHG however, his propaganda -like statements make much more sense.

It is time for concerned members of ACA to contact their leadership and demand that this sort of manipulation of their association and the profession, and misleading statements from their outside influenced leadership cease.


  1. West Hartford Group Membership Disclosure Statement Accessed May 2, 2012
  2. Murphy DR, Justice BD, Paskowski IC, Perle SM, Schneider MJ: The establishment of a primary spine care practitioner and its benefits to health care reform in the United States. Chiropr Manual Ther 2011;19:17.
  3. Winterstein, James. FCLB Janse Speech James Winterstein, DC April, 2011 
  4. Murphy DR, Schneider MJ, Seaman DR, Perle SM, Nelson CF: How can chiropractic become a respected mainstream profession? The example of podiatry.
    Chiropr Osteop 2008, 16:10. BioMed Central 
  5. ACA Communication Today