Advocating for ND Coverage Nationally
Lorilee Schoenbeck, ND, AANP Board Member, State Alliance Chair, 2706 Work Group Chair, State & Federal Affairs Committee Chair
Tuesday, April 15, 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

Teamwork is happening at the AANP! Interested doctors, students and administrators from all corners of our profession have been teaming up over the past year to advocate for ND inclusion in health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Known as the "2706 Team," we've been meeting in person at the DC FLI and the AANP Conference, as well as monthly by conference call to share resources and organize around making our case.

The Non-Discrimination Provision of the ACA, which went into effect 1/1/14, states that insurance plans may not discriminate against any licensed provider in covering services that are covered if provided by MDs, PAs, etc. As a tiny provision in a 900+ page law, most insurers "overlooked" this provision (also known as Section 2706). Through participation in our team, some of your colleagues have learned how to educate state officials about the law and the fact that the physician services we provide qualify us for coverage.

We are happy to report several successes. High level meetings between NDs and insurance commissioners in Minnesota, California, the District of Columbia, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon and Hawaii have made these state officials aware of the issue. Insurance commissioners in Montana, Oregon, and Hawaii have informed insurers about adhering to the new legislation. A new insurance cooperative in Maine is now credentialing NDs as in-network, covered physicians. Hawaii's Blue Cross and Blue Shield is considering the same for 2015. Plans in AZ are covering NDs out-of-network so far, with on-going advocacy/education being done to elevate this to in-network status. The new cooperative in Oregon is also credentialing NDs as in-network primary care practitioners with all commensurate rights and responsibilities.

The work continues. We are now asking that doctors and patients in licensed states submit claims or bills to insurance companies to attempt to gain reimbursement or coverage. We are also asking doctors in licensed states to contact insurance companies to ask to be "credentialed as in-network providers" which is what we believe the law mandates. We would also like to receive feedback on the outcome of your efforts.

The federal government is receiving organized comments regarding the experience we have regarding implementation of 2706, with the comment period ending the first week of June. If you have feedback to share, and/or wish to join the group of your colleagues who are active on gaining insurance coverage for NDs, please contact Mike Jawer at AANP. We'd love to add you to our list of ND activists! Also, please consider joining us for monthly conference calls and our meetings as part of the AANP State Alliance at the DC FLI (Saturday, April 26), and at the AANP Conference in Phoenix. Together, we are working to bring naturopathic medicine to everyone who needs it, and access to insured patients by every ND who wants it.
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