Marty and I joined 125 other naturopathic doctors, students, and supporters from all over the country on May 2nd – 4th to lobby for health care reform in Washington. The event, sponsored by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), featured two days of legislative training followed by a day on Capitol Hill. The North Carolina delegation visited the offices of Senators Hagan and Burr, as well as those of Representatives Shuler, Price, Butterfield, and Myrick. The day culminated with a whole foods reception with over 500 Capitol Hill staff members and representatives in attendance.
The main issue at the top of our agenda on the national level is getting true preventive healthcare into any discussions about healthcare reform. Unfortunately, at this time, preventive healthcare, as being discussed in congress, is focused on getting insurance coverage for more screening tests for diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. While that has its place, true preventive medicine works to actually prevent disease, not just detect it in the early stages. Congressman Langevin from Rhode Island has recently sponsored House Congressional Resolution 58, which states that any changes in the healthcare system should include sustainable wellness programs that address the underlying causal factors associated with chronic disease, especially activities of daily living such as diet, exercise, stopping smoking, and stress reduction. This is the natural role that we as naturopathic doctors would play in wellness and prevention efforts as well as filling the need for primary care physicians to work in underserved areas. We are asking that naturopathic doctors be part of the conversation around future healthcare plans.
I found the experience of participating in our political system very rewarding in that I can see my impact on government for the first time in my life. I have not historically been a politically active citizen. That has certainly changed!
Many people in North Carolina are not yet familiar with naturopathic doctors as we do not have a large presence in this state yet. There is no license for naturopathic doctors in North Carolina which limits the number of doctors willing to move to the area. Licensing efforts in North Carolina have been renewed this year with the introduction of a new licensing bill, House Bill 1404. If this bill passes, it will open the door for more naturopathic doctors to practice in this state and provide quality, physician-level, holistic natural health care. You can support this effort by contacting members on the New Licensing Committee (Representatives Barnhardt at 919-715-2009 and/or Brubaker at 919-715-4946) asking them to support HB1404.