Naturopathic Policies Gaining Momentum
Jud Richland, MPH, CEO
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
by: Jud Richland, MPH, CEO

Section: ED Update

At our recently concluded DC FLI, Dr. Lorilee Schoenbeck, chair of AANP’s State and Federal Affairs Committee, stood at the microphone. She asked Dr. Denise Clark to join her at the podium. Dr. Clark was not on the agenda, and most people in the room didn’t know who she was. When Denise arrived at the podium, Lorilee announced, “Dr. Clark is the President of the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Doctors.” With that, the room erupted into wild celebration. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment.

It was dramatic, but more importantly, it was one more sign that policy momentum is on our side. In fact, it’s been an eventful couple of weeks and months for the naturopathic profession. On May 8, the Colorado legislature gave final approval to a bill to regulate naturopathic doctors. The bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. We’ll all breathe easier once pen has been put to paper, but we remain optimistic that Colorado will soon become the seventeenth state to regulate NDs.
Lorilee announced, "Dr. Clark is the President of the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Doctors." With that, the room erupted into wild celebration. I don't think I'll ever forget that moment.

This follows by several months passage of a licensure bill in Massachusetts. The governor vetoed that bill but didn’t rule out signing a future one. The Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors is already hard at work moving a bill through the process to give the governor a second chance.

Our positive movement at the state level has been paralleled by significant progress at the national level. I’m excited to report that on May 9, the day after the Colorado legislature acted, members of the United States Congress introduced resolutions in the House and Senate to establish a Naturopathic Medicine Week. Our appreciation goes out to Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton for introducing these resolutions. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time legislation has ever been introduced in Congress with the word “naturopathic” in the title. Now that’s momentum!
Even the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, viewed by many as the epitome of slow-moving bureaucracy, is seeing the light. I encourage you to view the important and uplifting presentation given at the DC FLI by Dr. Tracy Gaudet, Director of the VA’s Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation. She talks passionately and inspiringly about the VA’s embrace of prevention and well-being.

All of this follows on the heels of enactment of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits insurers from discriminating against licensed health care providers and provides substantial new resources for creating patient-centered medical homes, conducting research on patient-centered care, and holding health systems accountable for the outcomes they achieve.

None of this means that future gains will come easy. I’ve been in Washington far too long to believe that incremental progress ever means we’re over the hump. Still, make no mistake – success breeds success. Every achievement brings the next achievement a little bit closer. And that means we have a responsibility to work even harder to advance policies favorable to naturopathic medicine.
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