New Hampshire Naturopathic Physicians Celebrate Legislative Win
New Hampshire’s naturopathic doctors are celebrating in the state this week, as their legislation, HB 351, an act to provide insurance coverage for naturopathic doctors, was signed into law by the Governor on Monday. This bill was first introduced in September 2010, so it’s been a long road leading to this sweet success.
Initially introduced in the House by sponsor John Cebrowski (R), the bill would require insurance companies to provide coverage for services delivered by NDs if those services would be covered when provided by other primary care providers. One vehement opponent in the house forced an amendment that modified the bill to require only individual health plans to make the change. The coverage would be optional for small group plans, which represent the majority of insured in the state.
In the Senate, the bill passed in its ideal form, creating the parity for ALL insurance plans. In a committee of conference, the bill’s supporters were faced with a decision to take the house version or understand that the bill would be “killed”. The final version signed into law delivers parity of coverage for naturopathic doctors in the individual insurance market, and creates a very easy inroad to modify the bill back to its ideal form in the next legislative session.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of this legislation, although it is an unfortunate compromise,” explains Dr. Jaclyn Chasse, ND. “We would have liked to see the legislation pass with our ideal language, but we have worked out the kinks with the insurance department, insurance providers, and legislators on both sides, and feel we have a great bill and a great example of progressive legislation. Next year, we’ll have to change just one word, and we’ve built such strong relationships that we’re confident we can make that happen.”
Another beneficial outcome of this legislation is that one insurer, Cigna, has elected to cover NDs as specialists for all of their members starting July 1, 2012, and another company is in conversation with the NH Association because they’d like to do the same. “This is another great outcome of this legislative process and a testament to the quality of communication from all NDs involved. We are now being sought out to be covered by insurance companies because they understand the value we could bring to their members.” Hopefully a precedent which can be a model for non-mandated insurance coverage in other states!