I’m honored and proud to offer naturopathic medicine to Alaskans. But state rules currently prevent my colleagues and me from offering the best care.
New legislation would change that. And today I’m asking for your help to pass Senate Bill 44 (SB 44) by writing a letter of support.
How SB 44 helps Alaskans
SB 44 establishes a clear scope of practice for naturopathic doctors that reflects our education and training. The current law is outdated, limiting the ability of naturopathic doctors to provide comprehensive care to patients like you. Senate Bill 44 allows licensed naturopathic doctors to issue vitamins, minerals and non-controlled substance prescription medications and perform minor office procedures.
- Alaska faces a dire shortage of primary-care providers. The US Department of Labor recognizes naturopathic doctors as primary-care physicians
- Allowing naturopathic doctors to practice the full scope of their training will immediately increase the number of primary-care providers in Alaska. This will improve healthcare access and help drive down costs.
- The recommended changes reflect the actual training and qualifications of naturopathic doctors, who graduate from accredited 4-year medical programs with more than 4,000 hours of training and clinical rotations. This training is on par with that of medical doctors, osteopathic doctors and nurse practitioners, including 1200 hours of direct patient contact.
- In Alaska, naturopathic doctors have a more limited scope of practice than healthcare providers in Alaska with equal or lesser training. Naturopathic doctors practice safely under the complete scope in many other states — as I have done in Oregon since 2010.
- Allowing naturopathic doctors practice to the full scope of their training lets patients access their medications from their primary care provider without the need for duplicative appointments and costs.
- Alaskans face some of the highest health care costs in the nation, increasing prevalence of chronic and preventable disease, and inadequate access to health care — particularly in rural areas. Passing SB 44 is one step towards addressing these needs.
- Naturopathic doctors’ primary focus is on disease prevention, rather than symptom and medication management. This type of care saves money for consumers, insurers and the state. It also decreases the unnecessary ER visits, frequent med checks and follow-up visits.
- Regulating naturopathic doctors appropriately will encourage more practitioners to move to Alaska and serve Alaskans. Naturopathic doctors already qualify for Indian Health Service’s national loan repayment program aimed to increase access to remote Alaskans, but are unable to make use of this program due to the currently limited scope of practice.
How you can help
Lawmakers in Juneau want to know that Alaskans support the care SB 44 would enable. The best way to tell them is through a personalized letter detailing your positive experience working with naturopathic doctors. Letters could also include negative experiences, such as having to see multiple providers when your ND had the training and expertise to help you.
Here is a sample letter for you to adapt:
TO: Senator Cathy Geissel
Re. SB 44
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am writing to urge you to support Senate Bill 44 (SB 44), which updates the scope of practice for Naturopathic doctors to reflect their education and training.
The changes proposed in SB 44 reflect a scope of practice that is being practiced safely and effectively by naturopathic doctors in many other states around the country. Given our unique healthcare challenges in Alaska, we should be leading the charge in pursuing policies which provide consumers with more options and greater access to affordable care.
I have been receiving care from a naturopathic doctor and my experience has been [insert personal experience here]
Thank you in advance for your support of SB 44, and for taking one step toward better healthcare in our great state.
Please send email letters of support to Jane Conway (firstname.lastname@example.org) — and be sure to put SB 44 in the email title. Please also copy me and the Alaska Association of Naturopathic Doctors (AlaskaNaturopaths@gmail.com.)
Passing SB 44 will broaden the availability of quality healthcare to Alaskans. Thank you for your support.
—Dr. Orna Izakson, vice president of the Alaska Association of Naturopathic Doctors
P.S. Do you need a deadline? Our first hearing is on Feb. 23, and we’d love to have your letter in hand by then. If that’s not enough time, no worries. But sooner is definitely better.