Advocacy to Promote and Protect Naturopathic Medicine
The WANP works tirelessly to promote and protect the practice of Naturopathic Medicine in Olympia so that you can maintain and increase your scope of practice, enjoy greater awareness of your profession, and get full and fair reimbursement for your work.
Below, we’ll keep this page updated with everything happening in our advocacy efforts. But first...
WANP's 2023 Legislative Priorities
- Achieve pay parity for Naturopathic Physicians.
- Expand naturopathic scope to better align with naturopathic medical training and responsibilities as legally designated Primary Care Physicians.
- Ensure inclusion of naturopathic physicians in legislation pertaining to the establishment of Washington as a "Sanctuary State" for abortion care and for gender-affirming healthcare.
Here’s how you can Take Action Today to support our efforts:
Help Support WANP's Legislative Efforts!
Why we need YOU to get politically active!
3 Simple Steps to Becoming a Political Ally
Everything you Need to Know About SB 5411
Helping you help us! Here is your Legislative Action Toolkit!
Learn more at our Pints & Politics events!
Why we need YOU to get politically active!
A core part of the mission of the WANP is to protect and expand naturopathic scope of practice to better meet the healthcare needs of our communities. As naturopathic training requirements, therapeutics, and complexity of illness advance with time, so must our scope! Naturopathic physicians have long played a prominent role in the primary care of their patients, and increasing numbers of naturopathic physicians are working in community health, tribal health, and rural clinics providing care to traditionally underserved populations. We believe that these doctors should be empowered to provide the full scope of primary care services their patients require (and that the state recognizes them to provide), and we are constantly working with our state legislature on their (and your!) behalf.
Any effective political effort requires extensive grassroots support, and that's where YOU come in! We need you to help us make sure that our legislators and other elected officials know who we are and why they should support our efforts! Politics is fundamentally about relationships. Just like you don't expect your patients to do what you recommend until you have established some rapport and trust, we cannot expect our elected officials to heed our calls if they don't even know who we are.
This page aims to help you learn how to be a wonderful political ally and advocate for naturopathic medicine. We are here to help! If you ever have questions or need additional information or support, let us know at email@example.com.
Support the WANP's Political Action Campaign (PAC) Fund
Our Political Action Campaign (PAC) funds help facilitate face to face meetings with our state's lawmakers. While campaign contributions are by no means required, they are the primary way our organization supports the legislators who work hard to support us. These funds can assist in opening doors for the WANP and they make our legislative work much easier. Our 2023 PAC fundraising goal is $15,000. Help us get there by making a contribution today!
3 Simple Steps to Becoming a Political Ally
- Learn what Legislative District(s) you live and work in.
Use the Washington State Legislature's District Finder to enter the physical addresses for your home and work. Memorize this information! (Or jot it down in a note somewhere.)
- Learn who represents you in the Washington State Legislature.
After you enter your address, the District Finder will show you a map of your legislative district as well as your state senator and representatives. Each name is hyperlinked and you can click on each one to learn more about your local elected official - including ways to contact them and their legislative assistants, a link to their home pages, and the committees they serve on in their respective chamber. You will also be able to identify if your local legislator is a member of their caucus leadership and what role they play. Feel free to click on the hyperlinks to explore and learn more about the lawmakers who represent YOU!
- Contact your local legislator and introduce yourself!
Use any of the methods of contact you just found to reach out to your local lawmaker and introduce yourself! Take this opportunity (now! do it right now!) to send an e-mail or leave a voice mail simply introducing yourself as a constituent. Tell them you are a naturopathic physician (or a patient or ally of naturopathic medicine). If you are in practice, tell them a little about your practice and what types of patients you see. If you are a patient or ally, tell them what naturopathic medicine has done for you or a loved one. Establish yourself as a subject matter expert and provide them with a way to contact you (ideally, personal cell or e-mail address) should they have any questions at all about naturopathic medicine. (See below for some language suggestions if you need some extra help!)
[Pro tip: ALWAYS cc your legislator's legislative assistant. Most likely, you will not hear back directly from your legislator, but rather from their LA. Be super nice and make friends with the LA as well as the legislator! You can find the full legislative roster, including LAs, HERE.]
That's it! You did it! You took the first steps in advancing naturopathic medicine in our state! Thank you for your efforts!
Why Support Naturopathic Scope Expansion?
The expansion of Naturopathic scope of practice enables naturopathic physicians to practice the comprehensive primary care they are trained and licensed to provide as primary care physicians. This has been the top legislative goal of the WANP for over a decade, and we have filed bills with similar language every session since a favorable Sunrise Review was completed in 2014. (A Sunrise Review is the process through which the Washington State Department of Health and Health Care Authority report to the legislature on the expected impacts of any health care legislation as well as the support of lack thereof of these agencies.)
Increasing numbers of naturopathic physicians are working or seeking work in community and tribal health systems, providing primary care to diverse and traditionally underserved populations. Naturopathic doctors truly shine in these settings with their focus on prevention, lifestyle intervention, and whole person care. However, patients who seek out naturopathic primary care often come in on many pharmaceutical medications - some of which are not currently in naturopathic scope of practice. This leads to patients suffering because they need to maintain care with secondary providers to manage prescriptions that are routinely managed in the primary care setting. This duplication of care creates undue burden on the patient and the system, increasing costs (both to patients and to insurers/Medicaid) and often delaying necessary care. In worst case scenarios, patients must be referred to already-stressed emergency departments for care that could be easily provided by a primary care physician. The on-going COVID-19 global pandemic has highlighted the need for highly competent primary care providers, and naturopathic physicians can and should be allowed to help meet this need.
SB 5411 and the 2023 Legislative Session
The Washington State Legislature underwent significant changes in the interim between 2022 and 2023. Many familiar faces moved on to new endeavors and the start of this session brought with it some new leaders in the health care committees in both the state House and Senate. The WANP worked hard all year round to strengthen our relationships with existing supporters and to develop relationships with newly elected lawmakers.
We are absolutely elated to share that we have secured Senate Republican Floor Leader Shelly Short (R-7) as the primary sponsor of this year's scope expansion effort in the state senate. Sen. Short is not just a supporter of naturopathic medicine; she is a true champion for our profession. Representing a predominantly rural district just outside of Spokane, Sen. Short understands the need to improve access to safe and competent care, and she is well aware of the role naturopathic physicians play in accomplishing this. We are also thrilled that Senate Democratic Deputy Majority Leader Emily Randall (D-26) continues to support our efforts by signing on as our secondary sponsor. Having been our primary sponsor for the last 2021/2022 biennium, Sen. Randall has been working with us for years to advance this legislation forward. Additional Senate sponsors include Senators June Robinson (D-38), Sharon Shewmake (D-42), Javier Valdez (D-46), Judy Warnick (R-13), Claire Wilson (D-30), and Lynda Wilson (R-17). We will soon drop a companion bill in the state house and will generate additional sponsors in both chambers in the early part of this legislative session.
With a new legislative biennium, we have a new bill and a new bill number. The focus of SB 5411: Addressing a shortage of primary care services by increasing the scope of practice of naturopathic physicians is the same as it has been in years past: expand prescriptive authority for naturopathic physicians to better match that of other recognized primary care practitioners in Washington, grant naturopathic physicians the legal authority to sign physician-level documents, and modernize the language in the minor office procedures section of our current scope of practice law. The overall intention of our bill is to empower naturopathic physicians to provide the comprehensive primary care services we are trained to provide. This will allow our doctors to meet the care needs of their patients without having to add strain on an already over-burdened system through unnecessary referrals for needs that are routinely met in a primary care office. It will enable our doctors not only to prescribe medications in urgent situations, but also to responsibly and safely taper their patients off of controlled pharmaceuticals when those medications are no longer necessary due to the effectiveness of naturopathic treatment modalities.
Pay Parity and the 2023 Legislative Session
The WANP continues to educate legislators about and to explore legislative strategy on advancing our bill that would require insurance companies to reimburse naturopathic physicians the same amount as our conventionally trained colleagues for the same services. We are closely monitoring similar efforts by nurse practitioners and physicians assistants here in Washington and by naturopathic physicians in Oregon. We continue to recognize this as a top priority for our doctors and we are building a foundation that we will build on until we make this a reality.
Outside of our efforts on our own priority bills, we constantly monitor and weigh in on bills that could impact naturopathic physicians in Washington State - during both Legislative Session and during interim.
Celebrating Wins from the 2021/2022 Legislative Biennium
2022 Efforts: HB 1821 defines "established relationships" for audio-only telemedicine. HB 1866 recognizes access to housing a fundamental determinant of health and allows healthcare providers to prescribe housing for certain individuals. SB 5765 expanded the scope of practice for midwives.
2021 Efforts: SB 5124 created a new colon hydrotherapist certification process in Washington so that naturopathic physicians can continue referring patients for this therapy, with added reassurances about the training and safety of the colon hydrotherapist. SB 5169 requires insurers to reimburse providers for the cost of PPE during the COVID-related state of emergency. ESSB 5229 requires health equity training for all healthcare providers. SB 5246 increased the reimbursement for primary care services covered by Apple Health by 15%. SSB 5325 requires reimbursement parity for audio-only telemedicine visits.
Helping you help us! Here is your Legislative Action Toolkit!
Immediate Calls to Action for SB 5411
Immediate Calls To Action
We are awaiting notice of a hearing for SB 5411 in the State Senate. Here's how YOU can help!
- Follow the links at the top of this page to send messages to Sen. Annette Cleveland and to your own personal State Senator requesting a hearing for SB 5411!
- Watch your inbox and this page for additional Calls to Action in support of the naturopathic profession.
- Be prepared by knowing precisely who represents you in the state legislature and how to contact them! (See "3 Simple Steps to Becoming a Political Ally" above.)
Reach out to us (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions, words of encouragement, concerns, personal stories (keeping HIPAA in mind!) of patients or others who have been adversely impacted by our lack of prescriptive authority, and/or any political connections you may have.
Contacting your legislators does not have to be scary or intimidating. Remember: lawmakers are people too! If you feel comfortable writing from your heart, please do! If not, please feel free to use some of the basic templates below.
Introductory e-mail to legislator
Subject: Request for meeting regarding/support for SB 5411 - Naturopathic Scope of Practice Bill
Dear (Rep./Sen.) [Last Name]:
I am Dr. [Your First and Last Name] and I (live and/or practice) in [City] in the [xx] Legislative District. I am a naturopathic physician and I (own or work at) [Your Clinic Name]. [Say a few things about your practice here. For example, "My clinic is a busy primary care family practice where I help patients of all ages. I accept Medicaid in addition to private insurance or cash payments in my practice." OR "I work exclusively with cancer patients helping them to manage their symptoms using natural therapies." OR "My clinical focus is on non-pharmaceutical ways to help people live pain-free." OR whatever is true about your practice.]
I am writing today both to introduce myself as your constituent and to let you know about SB 5411: Increasing the scope of practice of naturopathic physicians. This bill would expand naturopathic prescriptive authority to include medications in Schedules II through V, clearly authorize naturopathic physicians to sign physician-level documents (like disability paperwork and POLST forms), and modernize some language in the minor office procedures section of our law. These changes are necessary to empower naturopathic physicians in Washington State to provide the comprehensive primary medical care that we are trained and licensed to provide.
[If you have some, please share some HIPAA-compliant and compelling stories about how passage of this bill would benefit your patients and community. For example: "I am a primary care physician and my patient recently had surgery. They were sent home from the hospital with 1 day of pain medication and an instruction to follow up with their primary care physician. Since most pain medications are not within my prescriptive authority, I was forced to refer my patient back to the emergency department for pain support that could have very easily and safely been managed in a primary care setting." OR "Due to a recent job loss due to the COVID pandemic, my patient's anxiety has become untenable. My patient has not been able to function. They have had success with Xanax in the past, but I am not able to prescribe that, so I have referred my patient to psychiatrist. The wait list to get into a psychiatric specialist in my area is 6 weeks. If SB 5411 was in effect, I would be able to provide my patient with the pharmaceutical management they need in order to get them immediate relief to help regain functionality." OR whatever is true in your experience.]
[IF your legislator is not on the health care committee] While I know that you do not sit on the (House Health Care Committee/Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee), I want to ask for your support. I would love to meet with you to discuss these efforts further and to answer any questions you might have.
Please let me know if you are willing to meet with me to discuss this and let me know if you have any questions at all related to naturopathic medicine or this bill. You can reach me [on my personal cell phone at xxx.xxx.xxxx/at my personal e-mail address].
Thank you so much for your time.
[Your Name and e-mail signature]
Letter of Support from Allied Healthcare Professionals
**This should be written on professional letterhead and attached as PDF or similar file in an email to email@example.com**
Dear Honorable Chair Cleveland and Members of the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee:
[Introduce yourself, your credentials and experience in healthcare, current professional position, and pertinent memberships and notable positions in state and national organizations. Describe your professional experience with, knowledge about, and cause for interactions with naturopathic physicians. (For example, "I have been the clinical director of XX Community Health Organization for the past xx years. We have 3 naturopathic physicians working full time in our clinic and I am the clinical supervisor of these providers." OR "I work alongside naturopathic physicians in an integrated oncology center." OR "I supervise recent naturopathic physicians as part of the residency program that I oversee." OR "I am a specialist and I have a strong referral partnership with several local naturopathic physicians who serve as my patients' primary care provider." OR whatever is true for you.)
I support SB 5411 (Increasing the scope of practice of naturopathic physicians) and I am asking you to support this important legislation as well.
[Provide clear and concise reasons why you support this bill. Consider the following points:
- There is a demonstrated shortage of primary care providers in Washington State. Naturopathic physicians are trained and recognized by Medicaid and private insurers to work as primary care providers.
- Family practice MDs and DOs are overwhelmed and could use the help of an additional 1500 licensed naturopathic physicians in Washington State. Additionally, a recent study demonstrated that naturopathic medical students have a strong desire to work in community health settings serving diverse and traditionally underserved patient populations. Passing SB 5411 would help enable more community health organizations hire more naturopathic physicians without worrying that they would need to regularly pull in conventionally licensed colleagues for pharmaceutical management.
- SB 5411 expands naturopathic prescriptive authority to include pharmaceuticals in Schedules II through V. Expanding naturopathic prescriptive authority to include Schedules II through V would allow naturopathic physicians to temporarily treat the most common issues that present in the primary care setting. Temporary medications during times of extreme stress, grief, something as simple as fear of flying or mild sedation for a scheduled MRI are commonly used by primary care providers.
- Expanding naturopathic prescriptive authority to Schedules II through V allows naturopathic physicians to safely and responsibly taper patients off of the controlled substances in these schedules. Access to medications routinely used in Medication-Assisted Treatment of substance use disorders could enable more naturopathic physicians to participate actively and meaningfully in reducing the current opioid epidemic. With their focus on lifestyle medicine, nutrient therapy, mental health, and addressing root cause, naturopathic physicians are particularly well-positioned to help patients who are struggling with addiction.
- Over 400 naturopathic physicians voluntarily participate in Medicaid and/or Tribal Health Systems in Washington. In some areas, naturopathic physicians are the only providers within a 100 mile radius. These doctors need to be able to provide a fuller scope of care for their patients.
- Patients need their naturopathic primary care physicians to serve as their advocates. to include having the authority to sign disability paperwork, POLST forms, and other medial legal documentation.
- The current law requires that naturopathic physicians obtain 60 continuing education credits, to include 15 CE credits specifically in pharmacology, every 2 years. This is more than what is required for nurse practitioners, who currently enjoy full prescriptive authority in Washington State.
- Naturopathic physicians must successfully complete a 4-year residential fully accredited naturopathic medical school program and pass 2 sets of board exams before licensure. They must demonstrate training and competence in pharmacology prior to obtaining a DEA certification on their license.
[Summarize your support, emphasize that naturopathic physicians should be empowered to provide the best and most comprehensive care possible for their patients, and request legislative support for SB 5411 again.
[Provide your contact information and express a willingness to answer questions.
[Your closing, name, and signature]
Thank you for your efforts on our behalf!
Advanced Political Allyship: Engaging in Legislative Session
It turns out it's fairly easy to keep track of what is happening in our state legislature during session - so long as you know where to look. The state keeps updated committee rosters, bill information, meeting schedules, agendas, and live streams or recordings posted on our legislature's official website. Below, we'll link to the pages we frequent during Session:
- Homepage of the Washington State Legislature. During Session, this displays the full calendar for each day and provides links directly to legislative committees as well as bill information, rosters, and more.
- Committee Schedules, Agendas, and Documents. This is where we go to check out which bills have been scheduled for a hearing in any particular committee. Of course, our focus is on the health care committees (Health Care & Wellness in the House or Health & Long Term Care in the Senate), but you can search any committee you're interested in. Simple include which chamber, which committee, and the dates you are interested in, and click "Search." Once in the desired committee, you can see meeting agendas, documents, or click on "View Video" to access the live stream or the recording.
- Livestream and recordings. TVW provides access to any active livestreams of legislative hearings and to recordings of prior hearings. There's a lot to explore here if you're interested!
- House Health Care & Wellness Committee. Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. These pages have all of the current members and staff of these committees of great importance to the WANP.
- Bill information. This page has links to all kinds of ways to search and find what bills have been filed. You can see all bills that have been introduced, bills that have been voted out of committee, and activity reports. You can search for bills by topic, sponsor, or status. Once you click on a bill, you can see the bill's sponsors, note exactly where it is in the legislative process, access the original bill language and any amendments or substitutions, read any bill reports developed by legislative staff, access any relevant videos related to the bill, and comment on the bill.
There is a lot more information available, but this list should get you started to becoming a more informed ally and advocate for our profession. We hope you find it helpful!
Learn more at our Pints & Politics events!
Join the WANP's Governmental Affairs Committee and our lobbyists throughout the year to receive up to the minute updates on our legislative efforts and progress. You can learn a lot about our political efforts, ask questions, and interact with your colleagues in these casual settings. (Sometimes we even have legislators join us!)