24 April 2023
We are so sad to share that our priority legislative effort to better align our legal scope of practice with our legal recognition as primary care providers did not move forward this past session. Our prime sponsor, Sen. Shelly Short (R-7), continues to be an incredible champion for our profession, constantly thinking "outside the box" and brainstorming ways to get this bill all the way through the Senate chamber. We will continue to work closely with her and with legislative staff to continue our work to advance this bill in the Senate chamber. We have now identified a similarly strong champion in the state House who is ready to prime sponsor and drive this effort forward from there. As we get closer to the start of the 2024 Legislative Session in January 2024, we will explore pre-filing our House companion bill and work with our sponsors to get it scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness.
As more and more statistics are published on the shortage of health care professionals in our state, the unreasonably long wait times for care, and the desperate need for real, preventive, whole person approaches, we consider ourselves well-positioned to move this bill forward. Granting our doctors the legal authority to practice to the full extent of our training is simply the right thing to do.
Wins and Losses in 2023
Obviously, our most significant "loss" from the 2023 Legislative Session is that our priority bill did not move out of the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care. We were also disappointed to be intentionally excluded from the on-going effort by the nurse practitioners to achieve pay parity for the same services. The other notable "loss" was that - because of our still-limited prescriptive authority - we could not get the language of the bill relating to the Death With Dignity Act expanded to include our doctors.
That said, we also had some notable wins this session. From an engagement perspective, we experienced a drastic increase in messages and phone calls to legislators in support of our bill from YOU, our community! We're so grateful to you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to help advocate for our profession! We were also able to get our requested amendments passed to either include naturopathic physicians or at least to remove the exclusion of naturopathic physicians in a prior authorization bill and in a bill on psilocybin. With these efforts, we have been able to help legislative staffers and bill drafters understand that listing out all primary care provider types EXCEPT for naturopathic physicians may feel more inclusive (because it expands beyond just conventionally trained physicians), but it actually creates more exclusion for our doctors. We have also served as a key source of information for many in the legislature as they ask our lobbyist for perspective and she, in turn, comes to us. Through her, we have remained extremely active in the legislative efforts to protect access to reproductive healthcare and gender-affirming healthcare. Every time we are able to contribute in ways like this, awareness and support of our profession grows. That is a win for ALL of us.
Outside of the legislative session, we continue to work to ensure that naturopathic physicians are represented on various committees and task forces related to the Department of Health and Health Care Authority. We are pleased to have a liaison on the Vaccine Advisory Committee (thanks, Dr. Mary Koehnke!) and multiple representatives on the Power of Providers advisory group (we appreciate you, Dr. Amy Hobson and Dr. Andrew Simon!). We had a great conversation with the DOH about them intentionally including naturopathic physicians in their literature, social media posts, "peer to peer" webinars, and more, and we've also been working to get the state Developmental Disabilities Administration to recognize autism spectrum disorder diagnoses by trained NDs.
We are always busy fighting for this profession - whether we're in the midst of legislative session or not!
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~WANP's Advocacy Team