The first number is: 468. As I write this, that’s the number of days until January 1, 2014. And January 1, 2014, will be a very important day because that’s the day that many important provisions of the Affordable Care Act, i.e. the new health reform law, take effect.
Here’s another number: 2706. That’s the paragraph in the Affordable Care Act that says that health insurers are not permitted to discriminate against licensed health care providers who want to participate in the insurance plan. That provision also becomes effective in January 2014.
And here’s another number: 33,000,000. That’s how many people are expected to obtain health insurance under the new law.
So imagine that, on the same day that millions of people will have an easier time obtaining health insurance, naturopathic physicians in licensed states will be eligible to participate in health insurance plans. This will be taking place at a time when our health system is already experiencing a shortage of primary care health care providers. This confluence of events indeed qualifies as a tipping point.
Nevertheless, let’s acknowledge the realities. Here’s a disconcerting number -- about 240,000,000 Americans live in states in which naturopathic physicians are not licensed to practice. That’s three quarters of our fellow citizens who do not have access to physicians trained to deliver compassionate, whole person care.
...increasing the number of states with licensure continues to be a top priority for AANP.
Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act won’t change that. The only way we can change that is to increase the number of states providing licensure. And of course increasing the number of states with licensure continues to be a top priority for AANP.
Not only that, as the national association representing naturopathic physicians, AANP needs to take the lead in making sure that prospective patients know what naturopathic medicine is and what naturopathic doctors do. We need to let America know about your good work.
Your Board of Directors agrees with that. At our August meeting, the Board reallocated resources to begin laying the groundwork for a public awareness effort. Along with increasing the demand for the services of naturopathic physicians, greater public awareness will also strengthen our state licensure advocacy efforts. As our public education efforts begin, we’ll need your input and your support to spread the word about naturopathic medicine.
My final number: 1. Last month at my first AANP Annual Conference, I learned quite a bit. The single most important lesson I learned is that we are 1 community. Yes, we have incredible diversity, but we are 1 community. And as a community unified in our desire to advance naturopathic medicine, our ability to achieve great things is something to behold.