From the Executive Director: Fall 2014 Update

Welcome to the Fall 2014 issue of Vital News for NDs! Due to an extra heavy work load – and a lack of article submissions – we didn’t publish a summer issue this year,  so it’s good to be back.

Here is a brief update on some of the activities that have been keeping me and the WANP busy these last few months.

Sunrise Review

In July, the Washington Department of Health (DOH) began a formal Sunrise Review process at the request of Representative Eileen Cody, Chair of the House Health Care Committee. A Sunrise Review is essentially an investigative process conducted by the DOH to provide information and a recommendation to the legislature. The current naturopathic Sunrise focuses on proposed legislation to expand naturopathic prescriptive authority to include Schedule II – V controlled substances.

In early July, Dr. Jane Guiltinan from Bastyr University and Dr. Chris Krumm from the WANP Governmental Affairs committee joined me to testify at an initial public hearing conducted by the DOH. Representatives for the Washington State Medical Association also testified – in opposition to the proposal.  The WANP also submitted additional information in response to DOH questions and during the public comment periods.

At the end of September, the DOH released their preliminary report and recommendations and accepted public comments until October 6th. The report was decidedly negative with a recommendation against expanded prescriptive authority. The WANP submitted rebuttal comments and also highlighted sections of the DOH report that appeared incomplete and biased.

On a positive note, the Health Care Authority, the state agency that administers the Medicaid program wrote a letter in support of the Sunrise and so did the Board of Naturopathy. This divergence of opinion by two prominent State agencies will likely make for some interesting internal politics!

The final Sunrise Report is due to the legislature by early December, so we are still monitoring this closely and considering all of our options in the event that the DOH does not revise their position against expanded prescriptive authority.

Please stay tuned. In the event that a bill does move forward in the next legislative session, we will send out political action updates with a request that you contact your legislators.

Many thanks to the following people for contributing to this Sunrise process: Drs. Chris Krumm, Eva Kozura, Angela Ross, Jo Forwell, Mona Fahoum, and especially Dr. Adam Geiger for his work as committee chair and for many hours spent – and still going! – working with me to create our final draft documents and responses in this important process.  For more detailed information and to read the DOH preliminary report, visit the DOH Sunrise Review website.)

Office of the Insurance Commission Rule Making

Insurance Commissioner, Mike Kreidler, has initiated formal rule making to clarify details of network access standards and requirements for health plans and provider networks. Dr. Geiger and I have worked closely with our lobbyist, Terry Kohl, to review and respond to this and several other rule making projects as well. In particular, we have been making sure NDs are included in all the references to ‘primary care’ and able to participate in state programs and have also been recommending language that will support reimbursement parity for all primary care provider types.

This whole topic of ‘rule making’ is a vital part of our legislative work in advocating for the naturopathic profession and scope of practice – yet it doesn’t involve legislation. In a way, this is the more anonymous side to politics in that it doesn’t involve contacting legislators and working for votes in the way that we need to for passage of a bill. Until I really got involved with the WANP activities in this area, I didn’t realize how important rule making actually is.

(Note: Laws, or statutes, in Washington are preceded by ‘RCW’ for Revised Code of Washington. The naturopathic law is RCW 18.36A. Rules are referred to by ‘WAC’, for Washington Administrative Code, and are developed to clarify the details intended by the legislature in a statute. The legislature specifies which agency, board or commission will develop the rules pertinent to a particular statute in a process that has specific procedural requirements and includes opportunities for public comment. For example, the Board of Naturopathy conducts rule making under WAC 246-836 in relation to naturopathic practice. I strongly encourage all NDs to review our laws and rules!)

Continuing Education

Annual Conference

Last year, the WANP Board of Directors made a decision to change our conference format and locations. “Pain Management in Naturopathic Practice” was the title of our first annual WANP conference and was held at the Lynnwood Convention Center, October 11-12, 2014. This was our first time at this venue and overall the event was quite successful. We also learned a number of things to make the event even better next year, so thank you to approximately 100 members, colleagues, and students who attended and provided feedback that will assist our Continuing Education Committee in planning next year’s event.

Topics included naturopathic approaches to pain assessment and management, a review of non-opioid medications, the Gunn IMS system of dry needling, and an introduction to apitherapy and a review of evidence for use of herbal medicines in pain management. Recordings of the conference lectures will soon be available for purchase – including options for CE credits – at the WANP.org Store.

Webinars

In addition to the annual conference, WANP Webinars is our new venture into providing high quality, relevant programs for the naturopathic community via the Internet. Coming up this week will be our second presentation by Dr. Catherine Darley founder of the Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine in Seattle. This presentation will be on Circadian Rhythm Disorders and will include 1.5 CEUs. Registration information is available here.

We also have three other recorded webinar programs available: ICD-10 Coding Basics and CPT Coding Essentials by WANP President, Dr. Mona Fahoum; and Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Insomnia (1.5 CEUS) by Dr. Darley. All are available at the WANP.org Store.

In Washington, currently only CE topics in diagnosis and/or treatment are eligible for credit, so our practice management, billing and coding webinars do not include CEUs. However, they focus specifically on issues and processes that are necessary for a successful practice, and we are planning to develop more. If you have any suggestions or requests, please feel free to send them to my attention so that our CE Committee can do their best to design programs to meet your needs.

Seminars

In another effort to provide you with CE opportunities, our CE Committee is exploring the possibility of offering more in depth seminars on individual topics. Currently under consideration is a program on the Gunn IMS dry needling system and a program focused on apitherapy (bee venom and related products.) The soonest either of these would occur will be towards the end of the first quarter of 2015. Stay tuned!

Thank you to the members of our CE Committee for their creativity and commitment in putting together these programs! Drs. Nicole Maxwell, Joanna Forwell, Tim Gerstmar, Mona Fahoum and chair, Dr. Laura Flanagan.

Board of Directors

The WANP’s board calendar begins in September and this year we have a number of new members. Many thanks to all of the following individuals for their interest, commitment and dedication to volunteer their time to govern the WANP!

– Mona Fahoum, ND – President and Communications Committee Chair
– Adam Geiger, ND – Vice President and Governmental Affairs Chair
– Joanna Forwell, ND – Treasurer
– Bizzy Riley, ND – Secretary and AANP Delegate Chair
– Laura Flanagan, ND – Continuing Education Committee Chair
– Eva Kozura, ND, LAc
– Nicole Maxwell, ND
– Traci Pantuso, ND
– Angela Ross, ND
– Justin Steurich, ND
– Michelle Walter, ND
– Sara Jo Stuver-Pacheco – Student Representative

Our Membership

Current WANP membership hovers right around 350 now with about 100 student members. It took quite a while to break the ‘300’ threshold, so this is great. It also represents approximately 40% of the licensed NDs in our State, so there is plenty of room for more. If you aren’t a member, please consider joining – and encourage your colleagues to do so as well.

Health care politics occurs primarily at the State level and the WANP is the only organized voice and presence for our profession. Your support is what makes it possible for us to have this newsletter, to have a lobbyist, to work for advances in our law and to ensure that NDs are able to practice. None of those things occur by themselves. Just try to imagine what would happen without the WANP. A healthy association is necessary for a healthy profession and is always a reflection of its membership.

Be sure to visit the Classifieds page in this issue. This is a great place to advertise equipment for sale, space for rent, positions available or wanted, and announcements. I also invite you to consider writing something for our Winter Issue due out at around February 1st.

As always, and on behalf of the Board and myself, thank you to all of our members. We welcome your feedback, suggestions and ideas!

In health,

Bob

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