Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Fair Vote On Chiropractic School Promised

Jan. 21, 2005

Fair Vote On Chiropractic School Promised

Gary Haber

TAMPA - The vote on Florida State University's proposed chiropractic school won't turn into a referendum on chiropractic medicine, the state Board of Governors' chairwoman said.

Instead, the matter will be decided on whether the school fits FSU's mission as a top-tier research university and how well the school matches the state's priorities for public universities.

The vote Jan. 27 in Gainesville ``will have nothing to do with the merits of chiropractic,'' board Chairwoman Carolyn Roberts said in an interview Thursday with The Tampa Tribune's editorial board.

Members of the panel that oversees Florida's 11 public universities will focus on whether Florida is short on chiropractors and whether existing private chiropractic schools, including one in Port Orange in Volusia County, can handle the load.

Such discussion would be a departure from the debate thus far. Some opponents of what would be the nation's first state-run chiropractic program have portrayed chiropractic medicine as pseudoscience, and some program supporters have blasted opponents as physicians blinded by professional bias and out to protect their financial interests.

``I'd love to see it decided on the pure merits of the issue, instead of all the tempest that has surrounded it,'' said Jack Hebert, director of government relations for the Florida Chiropractic Association. ``That's all we've ever asked.''

Raymond Bellamy, one of the chiropractic school's most outspoken critics, said Thursday that he is confident board members will weigh the school on the merits.

``There's no way they can approve it if they vote their conscience, as the governor wants them to do,'' said Bellamy, a Tallahassee orthopedic surgeon and an FSU medical school professor.

Gov. Jeb Bush said Tuesday that he is staying out of the fray and urged Board of Governors members to vote as they see fit. On the same day, Bush released a 2005-06 budget that slashed funding for the chiropractic school from $9 million passed by the Legislature to $1.5 million.

Roberts said Thursday that she interprets this as a sign the governor's support for the project may be waning.

``I think he showed a little less enthusiasm,'' Roberts said.

Hebert and other supporters of the school say a state-run chiropractic college is needed to alleviate a shortage of chiropractors in the state and to bring more blacks and Hispanics into the profession. A 2000 study prepared by outside consultant MGT of America Inc. found that blacks account for only 1 percent of the nation's chiropractors, and Hispanics 4 percent. They account, however, for about a quarter of chiropractic patients.

A state Department of Education report said Florida ranked third in the nation in the number of chiropractors, and existing chiropractic colleges provide enough slots to train future chiropractors.

Hebert's group said that analysis overstates the number of chiropractors because it fails to take into account those who hold Florida licenses but practice primarily in their home states, or older chiropractors who work reduced schedules.

In her interview, Roberts said she was ``disappointed'' FSU trustees voted Jan. 14 to forward the chiropractic school proposal to the Board of Governors without endorsing it.

``I asked them to make a decision, to vote on it up or down,'' she said. ``I felt their board should have made a decision, and they did not.''