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Remarks of Secretary Shalala

Swearing in Ceremony: The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy
The Vice President's Ceremonial Room
Old Executive Office Building
July 13, 2000

Secretary Donna Shalala
Department of Health and Human Services
Opening Remarks

Commission Members, Congratulations. It's a great honor for me to be here today. I thank you for meeting the need to improve the health and well-being for all and the work you do every day, making life better for all Americans.

Before I talk about the journey in front of us, I want to take a moment to look back at a series of events that led to today's activities. The Complementary and Alternative Medicine initiative was established at NIH in 1999 to investigate, evaluate, and validate CAM interventions and provide health care providers and consumers with reliable information to make informed decisions about appropriate use. We all know that many of these interventions have been available to native populations for hundreds of years.

Utilization of CAM interventions continues to increase here in the United States. In 1998 an estimated 42 per cent of the population of the United States utilized these services. Nearly $27 billion were expended with approximately $12 billion in nonreimbursable expenses in the search to improve health and wellness. This expanded use and the need for more research and training opportunities and better evaluations led to the establishment of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the NIH. We are extremely pleased with the development of this Center and their activities, under the direction provided by Dr. Stephen Straus.

As the utilization of CAM interventions continues to increase, the need becomes more essential for administrative policies and legislative initiatives to address the integration of CAM services into the medical care system, provide for adequate reimbursement for CAM services, appropriate licensing, training and education of all providers of CAM interventions, and methods to provide readily accessible and easy to read information describing the benefits and shortcomings of these interventions to health care providers and the general public.

The task of the Commission is to provide recommendations to me that can be transmitted to the President for appropriate administrative and legislative initiatives to improve the health care and wellness of all segments of the United States population.

By signing the Executive Order this year, the President lifted the issues related to Complementary and Alternative Medicine to the highest levels of government. As the head of the Department responsible for these activities, I intend to keep them there. The needs of all citizens must be a core mission of every Federal department and agency. I don't consider this simply an administrative obligation. This is a moral obligation to the public - and good government being responsive to the needs of its citizenry.

Today is a great moment in history. We have an opportunity through the partnership provided by the Commission structure to fulfill the purpose and spirt of the Executive Order.

 
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