An Open Letter to the Connecticut Naturopathic Profession – CNPA Legislative Action Update
May 09, 2014
Dear Naturopathic Physician Colleagues:
I am writing this letter to all of you, my respected and esteemed colleagues, to update you and to thank you for your help and support during this legislative session. After enduring many years of frustration with the state of our antiquated licensing law and its extremely limited scope of practice here in Connecticut, as well as the previously unsuccessful attempts to make any changes in the law, we set out on a serious mission with a concerted effort to change this situation and we have been successful in accomplishing the first major step in that direction.
As you may have heard, the Department of Public Health Regulatory Corrections Bill that contained language modernizing the definition of naturopathic medicine and scope of practice recently passed the House 144-0 and then the Senate and is on the way to the Governor’s desk for signature as I write this. This is a major accomplishment and a giant step forward for the profession. However, it is only step-one. This modernized language for ND’s clearly describing our ability to diagnose, prevent and treat disease, order laboratory testing, perform phlebotomy and other office procedures, and to use counseling, physical medicine, and the material sciences (i.e., nutrition, botanical medicine, etc.) is now clearly codified in this language, which was not the case in our previous 90-year old practice act language. While you may think that this does not provide ND’s sweeping new rights compared to what most of you have already been doing in your practices, it actually is a major win for us in year-one of our effort. This new language now clearly establishes as a matter of law these practice rights and protects our ability to continue to do these things should someone, such as another profession, challenge our authority to do so in the future. It also sets a new foundation for us to build upon next year as we attempt to improve and expand the scope of practice further.
A major part of the process this session was our success in getting the Department of Public Health to take up our scope of practice change request and to form a committee and ultimately issue a report on the matter to the legislature. This was a legally required major hurdle in the process of scope change. As part of the complicated political negotiation process during this short legislative session we attained another major win. As part of our agreement to accept this new language, which by no means represented everything we were seeking, and to delay the pursuit of prescriptive authority until next year, we received a firm commitment from the Co-Chairs of the Public Health Legislative Committee to take up prescriptive authority as a separate issue with an independent bill and a public hearing on this matter during the next legislative session in 2015. Throughout this process we have also developed a dedicated team of key legislative allies to carry our future efforts through next session and we have forged strong new bonds with legislators, particularly those in leadership positions and those from the Greater Bridgeport area. We, as a profession, have established ourselves now as a serious political player for the first time and the legislators know that we will be back until we get what we desire and deserve for NDs and the patients we serve in the State. The CNPA, in conjunction with the lobbying teams, will also be getting out to you very soon a wrap-up report with an explanation of what happened throughout the session and where we plan to go from here.
Please understand that this is not the end of our effort, but the completion of the first step. We ALL need to remain actively involved in this process and to continue to rally powerful allies to our cause. The first thing you must do as a professional, if you are not already a member, is to join the CNPA. This provides needed resources to help in this ongoing process. Please also give additionally to the dedicated legislative fund at http://www.cnpaonline.org/advocacy/. Also, please make sure the CNPA has your active email address and continue to be on the lookout for communications about this process as we move into the next legislative session and act on what is requested of you without delay.
While this is process will likely take a couple of legislative sessions for us to attain all of the practice authority we seek, I am confident that the only thing that stands in the way of our ultimate success will be apathy, inaction, and lack of financial support on the part of the naturopathic doctors in Connecticut.
I would like to thank and acknowledge several individuals who were absolutely vital to our efforts. Firstly, I would like to thank our wonderful lobbyists; Linda Kowalski, Peter Smith, David Boomer, and Brad Weeks. I also want to acknowledge the administration of the University of Bridgeport for their significant financial support of the legislative fund of the CNPA, as well as separate funding for the additional lobbying team of Rome, Smith and Lutz, which worked in conjunction with the Kowalski Group. Secondly, I would like to thank my good friend and partner in this effort, Rick Liva, ND. We served together on the DPH scope change committee, along with Richard Malik, ND, and I know I can speak for Rick when I say it feels like we had an additional full-time job over the past 9-months with the constant demands that this effort has put on both of us. The help of Gary Gruber, ND in coordinating our “Engage” effort is also much appreciated. The significant counsel, financial support, and assistance in the activation of our grass-roots effort provided by Steve Wiggins (The Wiggins Foundation), as well as Mario and Elizabeth Kontomerkos (brother and sister of the late Christine Kontomerkos-Ferreira, ND), were instrumental to our cause as well. Lastly, thanks to all the NDs, students at UBCNM, patients and friends who called and wrote and called their legislators, testified, and provided financial support along the way.
David M. Brady, ND, DC, CCN, DACBN
Vice Provost, Health Sciences
Director, Human Nutrition Institute
Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences
University of Bridgeport