If you weren’t part of the 2013 DC FLI, resolve to be next year! Naturopathic medicine’s premier advocacy event (the 10th anniversary FLI, in fact) emanated vibrancy, solidarity, and a resolve to make greater inroads into health care policy nationally.
Several of the profession’s most renowned speakers presented compelling messages. Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, president emeritus of Bastry University, documented the remarkable progress that naturopathic medicine has made since 1975, explained why our current society so desperately needs the wisdom of the naturopathic approach, and sketched out the practical benchmarks of success. Dr. Tracy Gaudet
, director of the Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, brought the audience to its feet with an inspirational vision of medical care that regards health as far more than disease management, that understands the myriad connections between body and mind, psyche and soma, and that ultimately treats people as the unique individuals they are. Naturopathic medicine, she urged, has an essential role to play in that transformation – much of which still lies in the future but whose foundations are unmistakably being laid today.
The FLI is nothing if not an advocacy event, geared toward equipping participants with the know-how to speak confidently and forthrightly about [the aims of naturopathic doctors]
The FLI brought together physicians and physicians-to-be from 37 states; accordingly, there were numerous experience sharing opportunities. A meeting of AANP’s State Alliance enabled members from licensed and unlicensed states, respectively, to discuss strategy on Section 2706 of the Affordable Care Act (the section of the law requiring insurance plans not to discriminate against licensed providers) and share insights into how states can gain traction with their efforts to gain licensure. Colorado’s recent licensing victory was feted with a standing ovation for Denise Clark, the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Doctors'
president who led the charge, and Dr. Clark explained the strategies and tactics that resulted in this breakthrough. Additionally, two panels of speakers at the FLI addressed topics of import to naturopathic students: what it takes to build a practice in an unlicensed state, and ways to contribute meaningfully to the programs and activities of a state association.
The FLI is nothing if not an advocacy event, geared toward equipping participants with the know-how to speak confidently and forthrightly about our aims on Capitol Hill. This goal was abetted by two speakers – Jessica McNiece and Nick Bath – who work closely with Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) respectively. They commended AANP for developing Resolutions in both the Senate and House to create a Naturopathic Medicine Week. The bills, S. Res 135 and H. Res 211, were introduced by Senator Mikulski and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia) on May 9. McNiece and Bath provided unparalleled insight into the ways that health care policy continues to play out on Capitol Hill, and urged on FLI participants in preparation for their Hill meetings. Both received standing ovations for their support. Similarly, Steve Mister, President and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, enlightened attendees on the makings of his organization’s successful approaches – both on Capitol Hill and with the news media.
Tuesday, May 14, was AANP’s direct lobbying day. The 110 FLI participants advanced on House and Senate offices seeking cosponsors for our Resolutions and laying groundwork for support of future legislation to bring naturopathic physicians into the Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service. Meetings were held in nearly 150 congressional offices – most with legislative specialists on health care but some with Senators and Representatives themselves. These included Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Maine Senator Susan Collins, Hawaii Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, Nevada Senator Dean Heller, and Representatives such as Jim Moran (Virginia), Ann Kirkpatrick (Arizona), and Joe Heck (Nevada). One of our members even flagged Bill Nye the Science Guy – resulting in a surprise celebrity photograph. The day was fittingly capped with our highly anticipated Whole Health Fair and Reception, which, besides offering an array of tasty and nutritious foods, informally educates policymakers on naturopathic medicine. AANP’s docs, students, and staff thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to mingle, show and tell, and schmooze.
When all was said and done, the 10th DC FLI more than fulfilled its advocacy and educational goals. Participants gained essential experience into the political process, were invigorated by energetic speakers and highly relevant topics, came together as an advocacy force – and just plain had fun. Keep an eye out for announcement of the 2014 event and plan to maximize our collective voice by adding yours!