Science-Based Medicine » Legislative Alchemy: 2012.5

* Note: Please do the proper research and make informed decisions regarding your health! Far too much pseudoscience and quack medicine has infiltrated Mexikayotl!
Legislative alchemy, as faithful SBM readers know, is the process by which state legislatures and Congress take scientifically implausible and unproven treatments and diagnostic methods and turn them into licensed health care practices and legally sold products. Previous posts have explored this phenomenon in naturopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture.

Our last report on the legislative efforts of CAM providers appeared almost six months ago, the beginning of the legislative year for many states. Now, most legislatures have shuttered the statehouse doors and gone home. So let’s see how the CAM practitioners are doing this year.


A goal of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) is “full scope of practice” in all 50 U.S. states. They’ve got a ways to go. Naturopaths are currently licensed to practice in only 17 states and the District of Columbia. Bills to expand licensure failed to make it out of committee again during the 2012 legislative sessions of two states, Iowa and Maryland. In Colorado and Virginia, where licensing bills failed to pass in previous years, no new legislation was introduced to license naturopaths in 2012. Bills to license naturopaths are still pending before legislative committees in Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania. However, in North Carolina and Pennsylvania these bills have been languishing in committee since 2011, making passage appear less likely This is especially true in North Carolina, where the legislative session ends soon.

Another strategy of the AANP is “progressive legislation.” This means that while some compromise in initial licensing legislation may be necessary to get a licensing bill passed, successive attempts can cure any initial disappointments through expansion of scope of practice and insurance coverage, for example. Nowhere was this strategy more successful in 2012 than in Vermont, where “naturopathic physicians” (as the Vermont Legislature calls them) were officially defined as “primary care providers” (PCPs) for the purpose of health insurance coverage. The new law means that naturopathic physician practices can qualify as patient “medical homes” under the state’s Blueprint for Health and that they may practice as such independently and without supervision.

As conceived by Vermont’s Blueprint for Health, all citizens are expected to have a PCP, who heads the patient’s “patient-centered medical home” (PCMH) and who coordinates all of his medical care, including mental health, social work, physical therapy and specialty care. Thus, the law designating naturopathic physicians as PCPs clarifies that a naturopath, if she otherwise meets the state’s PCMH’s requirements, will be in complete charge of the healthcare of any patient who chooses the naturopath’s practice as his PCMH.

One snag in the naturopaths’ Vermont plan was the state’s reliance on the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) to score PCP practices to see if they qualify as PCMHs. (The NCQA is a non-profit organization that accredits health plans, medical homes, and other components of the health care system nationwide.) However, the NCQA didn’t accept N.D.s as PCMH applicants. (I wonder why.) So the state of Vermont went to bat for naturopaths and now the NCQA has agreed to assess N.D.s for eligibility as PCMHs in Vermont.

Unfortunately, a much-needed counterweight to Vermont’s expansion of naturopathic practice did not make it out of committee. A bill would have required a state pharmacologist to approve the naturopathic formulary. Alarmingly, the current formulary includes colloidal silver preparations, to treat eye infections, and silver, which can be administered intravenously, both dangerous substances which no physician in his right mind would ever use as a treatment. Silver can cause argyria, permanently turning the skin blue or grey, as detailed in this report by Rosemary Jacobs, an argyria sufferer who supported the bill. In addition, the bill would have required N.D.s to clearly state that they are not M.D.s in all promotional materials.

FULL ARTICLE HERE: Science-Based Medicine » Legislative Alchemy: 2012.5.

About Kurly Tlapoyawa (1010 Articles)

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