One of the blessings and responsibilities of being a part of an emerging profession like naturopathic medicine is that we need a strong and unified voice in order to move the profession forward. That is why for the past nine years I have joined with fellow leaders in the naturopathic field along with naturopathic medical students to participate in our annual Lobby Day in Washington DC hosted by the AANP (American Association of Naturopathic Physicians). Each year, I bring the stories and concerns of my patients to the offices of Maryland legislators in an effort to increase access to naturopathic care and promote use of non-pharmaceutical options for managing chronic health conditions – with an ultimate goal of lowering healthcare costs. With issues like the opioid epidemic and the rising healthcare costs for seniors on the forefront of national healthcare attention, the time to acknowledge the role that NDs can play in emphasizing disease prevention and lowering rates of chronic disease is now.
This year we thanked members of Congress who have supported our efforts to have Naturopathic Doctors included as enumerated providers in the Veterans Health Administration (VA). While this is still an evolving process, more steps have been taken over the past year to make this an eventual reality. Connecting Veterans with naturopathic care will expand the range of drug-less options available for managing chronic pain and PTSD.
We also requested support for a Medicare Pilot Project that would study the impact of naturopathic care on lowering the rates of cardiovascular disease in seniors. Over 83 million Americans have cardiovascular disease and half of those individuals are seniors. A study like this could demonstrate the cost effectiveness of naturopathic medicine and our impact on improving quality of life.
As Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski nears her retirement, I would like to acknowledge her tremendous support of naturopathic medicine and contributions to our legislative efforts. In 2013 she introduced a Senate Resolution creating the first ever Naturopathic Medicine Week and in 2015, she submitted a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs on our behalf calling for inclusion of NDs as a provider type within the VA. We look forward to honoring her legacy by advancing naturopathic medicine in Maryland through continued advocacy, excellent patient care, and community health promotion.