The Benefits of Advocacy
9/24/2015
Mike Jawer
Thursday, September 24, 2015
by: Mike Jawer

Section: State and Federal Advocacy




As Naturopathic Medicine Week approaches, it’s appropriate not only to tout the benefits your patients receive from naturopathic care but to consider the benefits that your professional association – AANP – returns to you as we advocate on your behalf with states and before Congress and the federal agencies.  

AANP is the only naturopathic organization working to:

-    Get NDs licensed in all 50 states.  AANP’s state leaders have worked hard and broken through recently in 4 states, gaining licensure in 2 (Maryland and Colorado) and gaining scope modernization/clarification in 2 more (Connecticut and Utah).  Through our State Alliance, members have access to an extensive Advocacy Toolbox so that no one has to reinvent the wheel when putting together materials, citing research, or quoting facts and figures in support of licensure or scope expansion.  Our monthly State Alliance webinars enable you to plug into exciting ideas and learn from colleagues who’ve done what you’re seeking to do – whether it’s to raise funds, hire and oversee a lobbyist, or testify before a legislative committee.  AANP offers its state leaders access to CongressWeb and CongressPlus, our easy-to-use grassroots lobbying systems that enable you to activate NDs and patients in your state.  And now AANP is starting a monthly support group for leaders of pre-licensed states.  If you’d like to join, all you need do is email mike.jawer@naturopathic.org.

-    Expand insurance coverage nationwide.  Through our Section 2706 Team, AANP has mobilized state association members to take a variety of steps that, together, are bringing the ‘non-discrimination’ provision of Obamacare closer to fulfillment.  Via template materials and monthly phone calls, state association leaders have obtained meetings with insurers and insurance department officials, coordinated patient postcard campaigns, prompted their fellow NDs and patients to file complaints, and commented directly with the US Department of Health and Human Services.   AANP not only coordinates these efforts but, recently, put our 2706 Team leaders on the phone with staff at 2 Federal agencies (HHS and the Department of Labor) to convey firsthand how insurers are failing to implement Section 2706 and to urge that clear-cut Federal guidance be issued.  It’s only a matter of time until some of the successes we’ve seen at the state level break through to nationwide insurance industry compliance with the statute.

-    Protect the availability of compounded medications.  Through a dedicated member work group, AANP is defending the office use of safety compounded drugs that meet unique patient needs.  Over the last 2 years, AANP has commented multiple times to the FDA, met with FDA staff, allied with the premier organization of compounding pharmacists, and reached out to involve other associations of integrative healthcare providers and patients.  We have carefully documented the clinical need for dozens of compounded drugs and drug ingredients, and are now supporting legislation that would curtail the FDA’s onerous proposed regulations.  

-    Include licensed NDs in the VA.  AANP has developed a rapport with the VA office that is seeking to provide veterans with access to a variety of licensed integrative health care practitioners and a variety of integrative treatments.  Furthermore, our extensive efforts on Capitol Hill have produced results: a letter circulating through the House that invites Representatives to sign a letter to be sent to the VA Secretary, urging him to assign an employment code to NDs.  The letter makes clear that NDs are specially trained to treat chronic pain and similar conditions through natural, non-addictive means.  Our initiative is being buttressed by AMVETS, one of the largest national veterans service organizations, and through a nationwide survey, commissioned by AANP, showing that upwards of 70% of veterans would consider seeing an ND if one were on staff at a VA facility near them.  The goal of having a letter sent by Congress to the VA was the major ‘ask’ of AANP members who came to Washington, DC for our annual legislative conference, the DC FLI, last May.  

When you consider that participation in the DC FLI has produced two major results in recent years – the House letter on the VA and the Senate’s proclamation of Naturopathic Medicine Week – it’s clear that AANP’s advocacy efforts are paying off.  Members of Congress are beginning to recognize that naturopathic medicine is (in the words of the Senate Resolution), “safe, effective, and affordable.”    

So, as Naturopathic Medicine Week approaches, consider how your association is working for you on all of these fronts.  NDs are in the thick of things at the national and state level, and we are making definite strides.  From a dues standpoint, the advocacy return on investment is unmistakable – and that’s just one aspect of what makes AANP membership worthwhile.  If you have colleagues who are not AANP members, share this information with them and urge them to join!  Any profession is stronger together; we are no exception.
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