November 2011 John Weeks Integrator Round-up:  Professions & Organizations

Chiropractors in bill to allow loan repayment for service in under-served areas 

A late October newsletter from the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) reminded members that their help is needed to increase sponsorship for the Access to Frontline Healthcare Act (HR 531). The legislation was originally introduced February 2011 in the US House of Representatives by Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa). It would designate certain types of health care providers as “frontline” providers. According to the ACA, the association and the Association of Chiropractic Colleges worked closely with the Braley “to ensure that chiropractic physicians are specified in the bill as qualifying for this status.” A draft letter is available at the ACA’s Legislative Action Center.

New Hampshire Republicans buck leadership to join Democrats in supporting coverage mandate for naturopathic doctors   

The New Hampshire Business Review ran an October 21, 2011 article entitled House panel endorses naturopaths mandate that documents a break by Republican members against the wish of the Republican committee chair. These joined with Democrats in a 15-5 vote in support of the requirement that insurers cover the state’s licensed naturopathic doctors. Debate broke over mandates versus choice. The deciding argument was that insurers “already pay for primary care physicians, so they will be paying for this instead.” A Democrat chimed in that “insurers would probably pay less, since naturopathic doctors would be less likely to prescribe expensive drugs and recommend high-tech medical intervention.” A mandate already exists in nearby Vermont where naturopathic doctors are also included as Medicaid providers. (Thanks to Pamela Snider, ND for bringing this article to my attention.)


Acupuncturists without Borders in tight spot financially 

In an October 18, 2011 e-blast boldly labeled SUPPORT NEEDED! Acupuncturists without Borders (AWB)  announced that it “had to cut back on our staffing temporarily until we receive more funds, donations and membership dues.” The organization’s mission is to “provide immediate relief and recovery acupuncture services to global communities that are in crisis from disaster or human conflict.” AWB says it has helped more than 20,000 people recover following Hurricane Katrina, Iowa floods, California wildfires, Boulder wildfires, shootings in Tucson, earthquake in New Zealand and in recent work with traumatized populations in Nepal, Ecuador, Mongolia, and Haiti as well as Missouri, Minneapolis, and Springfield, Mass. after the tornadoes of 2011. Presently AWB is operating with the equivalent of less than one paid full time staff person. Reasons are that “grants we used to get are no longer available and donations are down due to the recession.” The organization is urging practitioners to place AWB’s donation kit in waiting rooms to stimulate patient support.

Naturopathic student Rebecca Snowden in leadership role with the American Medical Student Association (yes, you read that right) 

The committee chair for the Medical Professionalism Action Committee of the American Medical Student Association is a naturopathic medical student, Rebecca Snowden. The committee’s charge is, according to the web site, “to change how future physicians interact by promoting: professionalism over commercialism; Teamwork over isolation; patient-centered care over physician-centered care; Ethics awareness, integrity and professional development; and increased physician-in-training access to medical humanities.” Under Snowdon’s direction, AMSA students will find an integrated set of web-resources on these topics. Under the sub-heading of “Teamwork”, for instance, one sees competencies propounded by the Association of American Medical Colleges and 5 other conventional disciplines side-by-side with those from 5 licensed CAM fields.

Snowden, a student at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, explains her role this way: “ND students have been eligible to hold certain leadership positions in AMSA for a few years now and they have a Naturopathic Medicine Interest Group for those interested in learning more. They try to help us with opportunities in their conference/convention schedules to plug an ND speaker somewhere into the line up, such as in [integrative medicine] panels at the conferences).” She clarifies: “Currently ND students are not accepted as ‘Medical Student Members’ as MD and DO students are.  We are ‘Supporting Affiliate Members.’ This year, there are 5 of us ND student leaders in AMSA. We are collaborating with NMSA to submit proposals in March [2012] at the AMSA Convention House of Delegates session asking for an AMSA statement on Naturopathic Medicine in their Principles, to include support for licensure, Medical Student Membership, and an ND Advisory Board. This work has also been happening under the mentorship of Bill Benda, MD.”