Monday, May 10, 2010

AANP's DC FLI Sets New Records

By Karen Howard
AANP Executive Director

This year's annual Federal Legislative Initiative (DC FLI) topped all records.
  • Over 170 visits to Congressional offices representing 38 states and the District of Columbia.
  • 171 attendees of whom 100 were naturopathic medical students.
  • 1,500 emails were sent in one day from 'virtual' lobbyist across the country using our electronic CapWiz program to write to their Members of Congress.

A special recognition goes to the students of the University of Bridgeport for winning the "Bring a Founder to the FLI" contest and receiving the AANP's first traveling trophy for school spirit.

This year we focused on how Congress can address the critical shortage of primary care physicians by accessing naturopathic medicine. Our specific requests included inclusion in all federal loan repayment programs and defining the term "integrative health care practitioner."

The term, "integrative health care practitioner" is used throughout the health care reform law and is not defined in the statute. Our objective is to encourage Congress to ensure Americans have access to the best, most qualified providers - many, if not all, of whom are underutilized in federal programs. As you may recall, the Coalition for Patients Rights, of which the AANP is a member, represents 3.3 million such practitioners. Our proposal uses language from the original H.Con.Res 406 and H.Con.Res. 58 (introduced by Congressman Langevin) and reads as follows:

"An Integrative Health Care Practitioner, acting within the scope of that provider's license or certification under applicable State law, addresses the underlying causal factors associated with chronic disease; improves individual health and increases individual capacity to engage in activities of daily living through lifestyle change, including strategies relating to diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and stress reduction; and provides patient-centered care that:
  1. addresses personal health needs;
  2. uses a multidimensional approach to encourage patients to improve their own wellness through lifestyle changes and the use of scientifically based therapies and outcomes based treatments that facilitate the inherent ability of the human body to maintain and restore optimal health; and
  3. utilizes clearly defined standards to determine when the implementation of wellness and health promotion activities will be useful for each patient based on the diet, exercise habits, individual health history, and family health history of the patient."
What happens now? Staff is working to mine the reams of data from these very valuable visits on Capitol Hill and will work directly with several of our state contingencies of NDs to create a successful strategy for our efforts. Capitol Hill is a tad weary on the topic of "health," in general, but preliminary work is beginning on what will constitute a technical amendment bill - and the appropriations process is also available as a possible vehicle for these changes. Our relationships continue to grow and deepen on Capitol Hill and our presence is clearly having an impact.


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