North Carolina could become the first state in the Southeast to license qualified naturopathic doctors. There is quite a long road to go with some rough hurdles.
House bill 1404 (HB 1404), the Naturopathic Doctors Licensing Bill, was passed through the New Licensing Committee on July 1st. This was the first of three committees that must be passed before being heard on the floor of the North Carolina House.
There is a similar Senate Bill that has not yet been introduced. There is significant opposition in the senate Health Committee. Senator Purcell will not hear the bill without the approval of the North Carolina Medical Society, a private organization. But we have not been able to come to an agreement with the medical society as neither side is willing to compromise on two major issues.
- The medical society requires that we are supervised by a medical doctor. Naturopathic doctors are not willing to allow this as medical doctors do not have the same training in natural medicine and have very different philosophies in regard to patient care. From a practical standpoint, naturopathic practices would not be able to survive the economic burden of hiring a medical doctor to review charts.
- The medical society also wants to make it a felony for unlicensed natural health practitioners to practice their trade. That would outlaw the practices of homeopaths, herbalists, unlicensed naturopaths, and many other very important practitioners in this state. It would even make it very hard for any of these groups to seek licensure in the future. Naturopathic doctors are not willing put this in our bill as these other practitioners are our allies (or at least they should be).
Without the support of the medical society, the bill is likely to fail. But this is an ongoing process and we will hopefully pass a few more committees this year.
I will be sending out announcements when we need our supporters calling into representatives. The next thing on our political agenda is another meeting with the medical society to discuss compromise on the bill. Hopefully we will be able to find common ground that does not compromise our principles.