Here in New Zealand the ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation), which is the government funded accident compensation scheme providing 24-hour no-fault personal injury insurance cover (and yes I lifted that description off their webpage), has for a while now been funding certain "complimentary and alternative" treatments such as chiropractic, acupuncture and osteopathy.
However in The Press on Friday, we hear that the new Minister for ACC (who has been on the job for almost 6 weeks now despite our election happening after that of the US) will be reviewing this policy:
Spiralling public spending on complementary medicine will be reviewed amid concerns about the treatments, ACC Minister Nick Smith says.
The ACC spent $37 million on complementary and alternative medicine (Cam) in the 2007-2008 year up from $18.4 million in 2003-2004.
Smith said Cam expenditure had been growing significantly faster than other parts of accident compensation.
There were "legitimate questions" about the effectiveness of some alternative treatments, and the issue would be looked at as part of a broader ACC review, he said.
This was brought to my attention over the weekend via the NZ Skeptics group, along with the suggestion that we email the minister and show our support for this (and I suggest that any NZ readers here do the same, my email will be reprinted below the fold). I think this is certainly a cause for hope that reality may be setting in here, and at least some in the new government will be on our side, for example Dr Smith who is the ACC minister is also the Minister for Climate Change.
Dear Dr Smith
I wanted to thank you for initiating an investigation into the ACC funding of "CAM" treatments, many of which have been shown to have no medical validity.
I think that you should follow the position of the MoH, in that only those treatments which are shown to be effective should be funded.
Any treatment modality which can be shown to be effective under the standards used to judge modern medicine, is neither complimentary or alternative, it would simply be medicine, and as such your funding model should reflect this.
I feel that this investigation is a good thing for the country and I wish you all the best for it. A good resource to help sift the wheat from the chaff would be the excellent website http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/.
Thank you for your time