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That Unity Thing. Again.

ACA and ICA and UNITYWhen I wrote last week’s post (Why We Can’t Get Along) exploring the language barrier that exists in chiropractic, I had no idea that a low-pressure system was simultaneously blowing in one more attempt at unity between the ACA and the ICA.

My guess is that the ICA rejection of the overture initiated by Congress of Chiropractic State Associations (COCSA) wasn’t merely obstructionism or the inability to understand the savings that could come by eliminating redundant staffing, office space, lobbyists or the continuing confusion among lawmakers. It’s something much deeper.

So what’s the problem? Here’s my take.

While much lip service is paid to the notion that what the two factions share in common is far greater than what divides them, I’m not convinced. Yes, each party would like to see chiropractic thrive and each party spells and pronounces the word “chiropractic” pretty much the same and applies the same variety of adjusting techniques and probably produce similarly high levels of patient satisfaction.

But today, those with a more “philosophical” bent are in the minority, so there is a legitimate concern that their voice would be lost in the machinery of a larger, “unified” chiropractic trade group. Instead, they would be asked to support a colder, more pragmatic view of chiropractic that appears to advocate being...

Assimilated. To be seen as an adjunct to the mainstream medical-industrial complex rather than standing up as a separate and distinct healing art.

Limited. To the relief of neuromuscular-skeletal complaints rather than seeing chiropractic as primarily a neurologically-focused intervention with whole-body implications.

Minimized. To sanction the use of language like “manipulate” and “treat” while ignoring their implications, thus minimizing the intent of a chiropractic adjustment.

Some see these as superficial nuances. And that’s the problem! If you characterize these distinctions and the time-tested principles behind them as merely semantically or self-indulgent hair-splitting, you have identified the very reason why efforts to unify the chiropractic profession have been consistently rebuffed. And will continue to be, regardless of the demands of COCSA or the threats of the Ohio State Chiropractic Association to urge members to withhold their financial support of the ACA and ICA until the merger is complete.

“You’re willing to sabotage the entire profession over something as unimportant as this?”

“Absolutely. Chiropractic is worth protecting. Otherwise all those chiropractors who surrendered their practices to go to jail did so in vain and the Herculean effort to go state by state to secure licensure was a waste of time.”

“Sure, but in the mean time, our ability to influence lawmakers and get insurance companies to toe the line is hamstrung. You’re willing to make a fuss about some philosophical issue when the very future of the profession is at stake?!?”

First, if the future of chiropractic is that tenuous, then it doesn’t need to “survive.” In fact, if it weren’t for being able to see what happened when osteopathy sold out and assimilated into the "borg," this might be a valid argument. If compromising the principles of chiropractic is required to “save” chiropractic, then let’s not save it.

Second, if the future of chiropractic is based totally on the generosity of insurance companies, then not only is the profession doomed, but by all rights it shouldn’t even have survived its first 80 years!

Don’t get me wrong. I want a unified chiropractic profession. But if you’re really interested in this noble goal, begin by defining your terms! Besides the 18 pairs of words from my previous post, agree to the meanings of these additional words as well: principled chiropractic, ease, dis-ease, innate intelligence, and while you’re at it: unity. Only until all the constituencies can agree of a common vernacular, the perennial call for unity (however it’s defined) will remain unattainable.

If I've got this wrong, let me know.

Comments (8)

Love the posts. I look at things just a bit differently. We get caught up in the details, not that they are aren't important, but I always look first to what I want to accomplish and then try to figure out the process that get's me there.

For example, I serve as the ED of the Assoc of NJ Chiropactors. We unified 6 groups 2 1/2 years ago. Took membership from 700 to 1450; increased revenue from $171K to over $1 million/yr. About to get an expanded scope through Trenton and much more. We've turned into the model state organization that many now are asking "how is this all getting done".

The reason I bring these points out is I refuse at this time to get caught up in the "defining of the terms". Going down the same road will get us the same old tired results, or more accurately stated, "lack of results." It's interesting to note that, in regard to ANJC, the people who presently make up the state board are the same folks that kept the state divided into 6 distinct opposing groups.

Here is one message that I easily got all ANJC board members to agree to. The primary goal of chiropractic is to improve the quality of ones life; to provide the opportunity for one to return to more enjoyable activities of daily living. By the way, whether DC's in NJ are limiting services to neck and back vs. focusing on creating a practice around families in order to have them adopt a chiropractic lifestyle, the same intent holds true...that effective chiro care will always be focused on improving the quality of life of patients and their families.

Not one doctor in NJ that I presented this to disagrees.

I believe strongly that we can come together if we simply create the type of messaging that makes sense not only to us as a profession, but to the public as well. The messaging noted above does both.

Diversity is our strength as a profession. It is our strength in NJ.

One other point. I am not at all impressed by who we, in chiropractic, perceive as the "biggies" in the profession. If many of these individuals are so bright, innovative and visionary, then why have they not found a way to solve the problem of bringing both nationals together? I believe they don't have the skills or know-how in order to make it happen.

This is not meant to be a personal attack on them. I know most of them for many years and am very grateful for what they have done to advance the profession.

But they've hit the wall and it's time to bring in folks who have the relationship making ability, saavy and know how to make things happen like never before. I believe some of those people who can make this happen are non-chiropractors...


Sigmund Miller, DC, FICC
Executive Director, ANJC
Editor -


Hey Bill,

I agree. To allow the ACA agenda is to create medical redundancy. I'm reminded by an old song that said "what the world needs now is another folk singer, like I need a hole in my head". Does the most health deprived industrial nation need another diagnose and treat doc? No! We need a change in paradigm. Where is the doc that you see when you're not sick and merely need a coach to navigate you towards proper health and preventative habits? Where's the doc that understands the normal function of the body enough to help it shine through? Chiropractic (ideally)is the stop gate to medicine. It keeps you out of the slippery slope of drugs and surgery.

Bones and muscles are not worth the efforts of the chiropractors of the past. Single handedly pulling a sick nation out of it drudge of its chemical, physical, and mental afflictions on normal physiology; now that's worth all of the past and future hurdles. Unfortunately, few people were informed in school that chiropractic is also a cause to rally behind.
There are more (over 90) DPT schools than chiropractic. They are well on their way to gaining direct access. If you want to keep on trying to be a baseball player on a hockey rink, be my guest. As for me, I play on the field my uniform was designed for.

Dr. Wiegand

D. C. Wallace:

Pure and simple the unity movement is simply a powerplay to delete any opposition to the chiro-powerbrokers game plan that Bill has described very well.....By the way, MD's, DO's, PT's, or XYZ's do not practice the TIC in chiropractic. They are just another breed of chiropractoids. Never fear the chiropractoids!!!!

Dr Deane Mink:

I'm partner is ACA. Never a problem, we can both go either direction if it's in the patients best interest. If I treat 100 patients a day, it's probably 50 get straight treatments, 50 get a few extras (MIXER TRTMT.) but it's always in THEIR best interest. Really, this isn't the problem on the's the P. T. guys and gals wanting manipulation and becoming primary. They already do it in our town. Unity will soon become mandatory to put this fire out.

I have seen mine enemy and it is me...
It seems to me that if the unified organization is run by a democratic procedure-- the majority of chiropractors are subluxation based and within a short time those doctors would take the helm of the unified national organization and drive the ship where the profession wanted it to go. Sometimes people fear change, what if we called the one national organization the ICA? Would that make people feel better? What if we called it USCA? Why does it have to be the ACA, ICA, or WCA? Couldn't you make a shell organization that invites all the other organizations in to unify like a united nations of chiropractic organizations? If all you are looking for is problems with the situation then you will have trouble finding the solutions. People fear that the ACA will represent them in a way different than they want, guess what folks.. it already is. Wouldn't it be better if all the people in the Chiropractic Coalition entered the ACA and forced them to change to what the profession really wants? Or easier than that, what if the ACA joined the Chiropractic Coalition (as if that would ever happen)?

Charles G. Weiss, DC:


As this whole thing unfolds AGAIN, I think groups like the OSCA are missing a huge point. The profession is not just represented by two organizations. Any discussion of unity would need to bring all of the organizations to the table. Unless you can create an organization that represents all aspects of chiropractic practice, we will always have small faction groups who undermine the larger organization's efforts because they are not representing all of chiropractic.

Subluxation has to be more than a term that keeps us in Medicare and nerve interference has to matter to those that want to represent us in active practice.

I appreciate all the hard work that our organizations are trying to do on our behalf, but until any group figures out how to represent us, the largest organization in chiropractic will continue to be NoCA.


Tony Russo:

Hey Bill,
Wow! Divide and conquer. And that's just what they're doing to us. Not blaming anyone, but "they're a bunch of deceptors" and "they're a bunch of Chiropractic cultists". "He said", "she said". "I say yes", "you say no". "I say subluxation". "you say sub--what?". And all along the real enemies of Chiropractic are just laughing their asses off. Maybe it's because I'm now 50, but what does it do to guys like me, trying to eke out a living? Nothing guys, nothing at all. I'm only interested in feeding my family with the way in which I have been priveleged to attempt to accomlish it. Let me know when the fightin's over. Or have "they" won? Now, if I've got it wrong, you can let me know.

Arthur Rehe, D.C.:

Bill, you are very right in your comments here.

But there is also the history of trickery and cheating by the ACA people. Repeatedly they have stated one thing until they get the power and then go in an exact opposite, detremental to Chiropractic, direction when they get the chance to do so.

Let me remind you of the vote by ACA people on the question of whether military men should be able to access a Chiropractor directly or should be required to get a medical referral. After agreeing that the only sensible thing to do was to have open access, and stating unequivocally that they would vote for that, all the ACA people voted for referral. I can not imagine why or how that betrayal came about, but betrayal of Chiropractic in the military it certainly was. And there are many, many instances like this that you will find in ACA history.


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From May 11, 2007 1:10 PM

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