Naturopathic physicians and students took to Capitol Hill en masse the first Monday in May, pressing for NDs to be included in Medicare and for Congress to prompt the Veterans Health Administration to assign NDs an employment code so they can work systematically for the VA. One hundred and fifty NDs and students held meetings in 270 House and Senate offices, a 50% increase in the number of offices visited since last year. The enthusiasm was palpable, with these visits introducing naturopathic medicine, in many cases, to new offices and new staff members on Capitol Hill – many of whom were clearly receptive to our profession’s pitch.
AANP’s FLI (Federal Legislative Initiative) also featured two full days of programming on topics ranging from how to frame naturopathic medicine’s message for the public and media to the strides being made by the military and VA in offering integrative healthcare to current and retired servicemen and women. Twenty-five speakers presented general sessions and led breakouts. The general sessions included a look ahead to the profession’s “aspirational future,” courtesy of Jonathan Peck, President of the Institute for Alternative Futures, and a panel presentation that included Dr. Eric Schoomaker, former US Army Surgeon General, Dr. Kevin Berry, a 30-year Navy veteran now leading military medical research at the Samueli Institute, Justin Heesakker, a former Navy SEAL now practicing acupuncture at a pioneering VA medical center in Washington, DC, and two members of the AANP Board, Drs. Jane Guiltinan and Carrie Runde. These sessions were extremely well received, as were immediately applicable presentations that provided insight on working in unlicensed states, tips on building a successful practice, and a slew of topics relevant to increasing state associations’ advocacy success. In fact, one entire morning of the FLI was set aside for AANP’s State Alliance: leaders of the present and future who gathered in breakout groups to share experience, ask questions, and forge legislative success at the state level.
The FLI also excels at preparing members – whether practicing NDs or students – for making their case on Capitol Hill. In this vein, Dr. Jaclyn Chasse, AANP’s President-Elect, had a hit with her “elevator speech” workshop, as did Dr. David Macallan, who led participants through mock congressional visits. The comfort level gained through these sessions was not only evident through the success of the actual visits but will be amplified back home, as participants reach out to speak with state and local lawmakers to advance the naturopathic agenda.
As it always does, the FLI concluded with the enjoyable Whole Health Reception, where attendees mingled with those who work on Capitol Hill and are curious to sample tasty and nutritious food and drink as well as learn more about NDs and naturopathic medicine. These informal conversations are often as ‘nutritious’ as formal visits in building relationships and interest.
Thanks go to AANP’s State and Federal Affairs Committee, led by co-chairs Laura Farr and Dr. Kasra Pournadeali, as well as the State Alliance, led by Drs. Lorilee Schoenbeck and Emily Telfair. The DC FLI truly energizes our advocacy efforts – not just in the abstract but specifically as NDs look to become credentialed by the VA. Watch for a further call to action on this issue!
Any questions about the FLI or AANP’s advocacy priorities can be shared with Mike Jawer, Director of Government and Public Affairs
(202-237-8150). We welcome your involvement as we break new ground together.