State and Federal Affairs Report
1/22/2014
Lorilee Schoenbeck, ND, AANP Board Member, State Alliance Chair, 2706 Work Group Chair, State & Federal Affairs Committee Chair
Accomplishments and Opportunities
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
by: Lorilee Schoenbeck, ND, AANP Board Member, State Alliance Chair, 2706 Work Group Chair, State & Federal Affairs Committee Chair

Section: State and Federal Advocacy




What an amazing year!  Colorado passing regulation, the US Congress declaring Naturopathic Medicine Week and Washington getting Medicaid recognition are some of the highlighted successes we celebrate as a naturopathic community for 2013. As I prepare to transition from chairing the State and Federal Affairs Committee to a more specific focus on licensing and insurance coverage for NDs, I’d like to reflect on what we’ve accomplished together in the recent past, thank a number of phenomenal ND advocates, and lay out a vision for how you can utilize the AANP to create more victories in 2014 and beyond.
 
Two years ago, when AANP’s president Michael Cronin reinvigorated the State and Federal Affairs Committee, I convened an expert team of 10 NDs from all corners of our community including state leaders, the House of Delegates, and student community. Working in conjunction with AANP’s fantastic new Government Affairs Director Mike Jawer and CEO Jud Richland, the State and Federal Affairs committee set out on a mission—to get stuff done. First, we wanted the AANP to provide stronger, tangible support to our warriors out “in the trenches” of state houses. Next, we wanted to help those warriors connect with each other and share resources—to not have to “reinvent the wheel” in generating testimony, strategy and materials. We also wanted our profession to not miss the health reform boat, but rather to seize opportunities for NDs in the Affordable Care Act. Here are some highlights.
 
The Toolbox
AANP now has a living repository of legislative aids. Constantly updated and newly reorganized, the State Advocacy Toolbox is THE place to go first when you need to pass a law.  Check it out at www.naturopathic.org/statetoolbox or click the Advocacy tab.
 
2706 Teaming  
2013 was the year to train NDs to advocate for correct implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s Section 2706, which states that health insurance plans cannot discriminate against licensed providers. Monthly phone meetings, with in-person training at the DC-FLI and the AANP convention, have fostered collaboration and support between ND volunteers on this issue. I’d like to formally appreciate a few of the ND community’s “rock stars”:
  • Drs. Minna Yoon and Angela Agrios from California, who are working on your behalf with the CA Insurance Commissioner and the CA Department of Managed Care.
  • Drs. Tabatha Parker, Erica Oberg and Pamela Snider, for creating high-level roundtable meetings with regional directors of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Dr. Anne Jacobs, who helped secure in-network insured status for NDs from a cooperative health plan in Maine.
  • Dr. Jeff Roush for his persistence in contacting and educating Montana’s Insurance Commissioner.
  • Serina Aubrecht, Bastyr California 2nd year student, who organized and executed excellent presentations to the Health Commissioner of Minnesota.
  • Laura Farr, Executive Director of the OANP, for skillfully advocating for NDs in Oregon’s health plans.
  • Dr. Michael Traub, for educating Hawaii’s health administrators and negotiating insurance coverage for NDs by BCBS—Hawaii’s largest plan.
  • Drs. Tina Beaudoin and Rhodo Nguyen for meeting with New Hampshire and Washington, DC’s Insurance Commissioners.
  • The team from Arizona:  Dr. Paul Mittman, Cathy Stuart and Dr. Kristen Bishop ND, who broke through the ice and brought naturopathic medicine into the Insurance Commissioner’s office.
Looking Ahead to 2014
The work on insurance coverage of NDs continues. Because the federal agency in charge of this (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) has told states they don’t need to “network” with NDs (which we dispute), insurance coverage for NDs may start out as “out-of-network” in many states. In 2014, our goal is to activate our patients and organize them to demand that NDs be covered in-network. NDs provide routine health visits—the same as MDs—and we believe that non-inclusion is discrimination. If you live in a licensed state and want to help make insurance recognition a reality, join our 2706 Team! Join your state affiliate, and be ready when called upon to activate your patient base. AANP has created an easy-to-use web portal (www.CoverMyND.org) for patients to advocate for their rights.
 
AANP will begin a top federal priority of pursuing Medicare inclusion in 2014. If you would like to join a new Work Group forming on this issue, we'd like to welcome you with open arms!

We continue to identify loan repayment, compounding pharmacy access, inclusion in Veterans’ benefits and educating Indian tribes to take advantage of our inclusion in their health services as important federal issues. Frankly, we need more interested members to stop forward and increase our “bandwidth” to actively pursue these issues.

If you are interested in participating in any of the activities that we are working on in 2014, please contact Mike Jawer
 
The Key Mission
The single most important goal before us is to license the majority of states—soon.  (Fifty in Fifteen!) The following are groups of ND Warriors currently in the trenches, dedicated to passing this and other legislation vital for our profession:
  • Alaska Association of Naturopathic Physicians
  • Colorado Association of Naturopathic Physicians
  • Connecticut Naturopathic Physicians Association
  • Florida Naturopathic Physicians Association
  • Idaho Chapter of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
  • Illinois Association of Naturopathic Physicians
  • Maryland Association of Naturopathic Physicians
  • Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors 
  • Michigan Association of Naturopathic Physicians
  • New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians
  • Pennsylvania Association of Naturopathic Physicians
  • Puerto Rico Association of Naturopathic Physicians
  • Rhode Island Association of Naturopathic Physicians
  • Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians
There are NDs working in all corners of this country on state affairs—and I apologize for not being able to mention everyone.  We salute and support you! We thank you for your service. 
 
If you are considering moving to an unlicensed state and getting involved in advancing naturopathic medicine—do it!  Join your colleagues in championing naturopathic medicine.  We can change the world—together.  Your community, the nation, and the planet need naturopathic medicine.  It’s our time to stand up and shine.
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