It’s been 44 years since we have taken a crack at improving chiropractic education in Florida, and frankly, it is long overdue for an adjustment.
In a recent column, Dr. Michael Wiles of Keiser University criticized legislation that creates competition in accreditation, and implies that competition is bad for patients. In reality, the only groups who are “hurt” by competition are the entrenched interests Dr. Wiles is defending.
Dr. Wiles is correct when he says there have been “tremendous changes” to the chiropractic “profession over the past few decades.”
Just like Dr. Wiles says, chiropractic medicine “has moved away from the old esoteric ‘alternative medicine’ to a science-based and team-based profession; it is dedicated to providing the safest and most effective care for complaints such as back and neck pain.”
So why have we not moved away from the 1970s-era private accreditation monopoly that is the Council on Chiropractic Education?
Contrary to Dr. Wiles’ belief, House Bill 873 does not lower standards. It simply opens Florida’s statutes to allow competition in chiropractic education accreditation.
By allowing any accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation to accredit chiropractic schools, the Florida Legislature is not only ensuring that competition exists in the accreditation market, they are also bringing chiropractic medicine closer in alignment to traditional medicine.
Florida statutes clearly allow for multiple accrediting agencies for traditional doctors and dentists, yet when it comes to chiropractors, we give singular organizations statutory monopolies.
When the Legislature moved to allow competition in accreditation for traditional doctors and nurses, the same argument was made: Competition lowers standards and puts patients at risk.
Eliminating the accreditation monopoly did not open the door for substandard college programs and licensees. In fact, the biggest effect was closing our medical professional shortage by allowing Floridians to study abroad for their medical education.
While the Florida Chiropractic Association and its friends with entrenched interests may stand against the bill, the Florida Chiropractic Society emphatically supports the idea of increasing competition in Florida.
The Chiropractic Society understands that while competition might not be in the best interest of entrenched interests, it certainly is in the best interest of society.
Sure, the vote was along party lines, but it is called the right wing for a reason. Standing up for competition is at the heart of Republican values.
Hopefully, our friends on the left can come to see HB 873 as the pro-patient bill that it is.
Moving against entrenched special interests is not easy. Floridians should be thankful that Rep. Santiago has enough of a spine to take a crack at it.
It is high time for common sense to enter into this process and put the accreditation monopoly to rest.
Jennings DePriest is a tech entrepreneur and education policy advocate.