Why we need YOU to get politically active!
A core part of the mission of the WANP is to protect and expand naturopathic scope of practice to better meet the healthcare needs of our communities. As naturopathic training requirements, therapeutics, and complexity of illness advance with time, so must our scope! Naturopathic physicians have long played a prominent role in the primary care of their patients, and increasing numbers of naturopathic physicians are working in community health, tribal health, and rural clinics providing care to traditionally underserved populations. We believe that these doctors should be empowered to provide the full scope of primary care services their patients require, and we are constantly working with our state legislature on their (and your!) behalf.
Any effective political effort requires extensive grassroots support, and that's where YOU come in! We need you to work with us to make sure that our legislators and other elected officials know who we are and why they should support our efforts! Politics is fundamentally about relationships. Just like you don't expect your patients to do what you recommend until you have established some rapport and trust, we cannot expect our elected officials to heed our calls if they don't even know who we are.
This page aims to help you learn how to be a wonderful political ally and advocate for naturopathic medicine. We are here to help! If you ever have questions or need additional information or support, let us know at email@example.com.
Support the WANP's Political Action Campaign (PAC) Fund
Our Political Action Campaign (PAC) funds help facilitate face to face meetings with our state's lawmakers. While campaign contributions are by no means required, they are the primary way our organization supports the legislators who work hard to support us. These funds can assist in opening doors for the WANP and they make our legislative work much easier. Our 2021 PAC fundraising goal is $30,000. Help us get there by making a contribution today!
3 Simple Steps to Becoming a Political Ally
1.) Learn what Legislative District(s) you live and work in.
Use the Washington State Legislature's District Finder to enter the physical addresses for your home and work. Memorize this information! (Or jot it down in a note somewhere.)
2.) Learn who represents you in the Washington State Legislature.
After you enter your address, the District Finder will show you a map of your legislative district as well as your senator and representatives. Each name is hyperlinked and you can click on each one to learn more about your local elected official, to include ways to contact them and their legislative assistants, a link to their home pages, and the committees they serve on in their respective chamber. You will also be able to identify if your local legislator is a member of their caucus leadership and what role they play. Feel free to click on the hyperlinks to explore and learn more about the lawmakers who represent YOU!
3.) Contact your local legislator and introduce yourself!
Use any of the methods of contact you just found to reach out to your local lawmaker and introduce yourself! Take this opportunity (now! do it right now!) to send an e-mail or leave a voice mail simply introducing yourself as a constituent. Tell them you are a naturopathic physician (or a patient or ally of naturopathic medicine). If you are in practice, tell them a little about your practice and what types of patients you see. Establish yourself as a subject matter expert and provide them with a way to contact you (ideally, personal cell or e-mail address) should they have any questions at all about naturopathic medicine. (See below for some language suggestions if you need some extra help!)
[Pro tip: ALWAYS cc your legislator's legislative assistant. Most likely, you will not hear back directly from your legislator, but rather from their LA. Be super nice and make friends with the LA as well as the legislator!]
That's it! You did it! You took the first steps in advancing naturopathic medicine in our state! Thank you for your efforts!
Everything you Need to Know About SB 5088
Supporting the expansion of Naturopathic scope of practice empowers naturopathic physicians to practice the comprehensive primary care they are trained and licensed to provide.
Increasing numbers of naturopathic physicians are working or seeking work in community and tribal health systems, providing primary care to diverse and traditionally underserved populations. Naturopathic doctors truly shine in these settings with their focus on prevention, lifestyle intervention, and whole person care. However, patients who seek out naturopathic primary care often come in on many pharmaceutical medications - some of which are not currently in naturopathic scope of practice. This leads to patients suffering because they need to maintain care with secondary providers to manage prescriptions that are routinely managed in the primary care setting. This duplication of care creates undue burden on the patient and the system, increasing costs (both to patients and to insurers/Medicaid) and often delaying necessary care. In worst case scenarios, patients must be referred to already-stressed emergency departments for care that should be easily provided by a primary care physician. The current global pandemic has highlighted the need for highly competent primary care providers, and naturopathic physicians can and should be allowed to help meet this need.
WANP's Governmental Affairs Committee made tremendous progress in our legislative efforts this fall and winter, but SB 5088: Addressing a shortage of primary care services by increasing the scope of practice of naturopathic physicians was not granted a public hearing or a vote in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee this session. We will continue to work on this bill moving toward and into the 2022 legislative session. Keep reading to understand how!
The focus of SB 5088 is much the same as it has been in years past: expand prescriptive authority to include controlled substances in Schedules III through V, grant naturopathic physicians the legal authority to sign physician-level documents, and modernize the language in the minor office procedures section of our current scope of practice law. The overall intention of our bill is to empower naturopathic physicians to provide the comprehensive primary care services we are trained to provide. This will allow our doctors to meet the care needs of their patients without having to add strain on an already over-burdened system. It will enable our doctors not only to prescribe medications in urgent situations, but also to responsibly and safely taper their patients off of controlled pharmaceuticals when those medications are no longer necessary due to the effectiveness of naturopathic treatment modalities.
As we move this bill into the 2022 legislative session, we have the opportunity to stick with the bill number, title, language, and sponsors, and the Governmental Affairs Committee will be debating the pros and cons of this strategy. The reality is that we have two powerful and passionate sponsors in our state senate: Sen. Emily Randall (D-26), Senate Majority Whip, and Sen. Ann Rivers (R-18), Senate Minority Whip. 2022 will likely open up an opportunity to introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives and we expect to have equally powerful and passionate sponsors there.
We have approached Sen. Randall to request a Health Impact Review to be completed over interim in preparation for our 2022 legislative session. This is a newer process that involves an objective, non-partisan, evidence-based deep dive into a bill to provide Legislators and the Governor with information on how proposed legislation may impact health and health equity. This can be incredibly helpful in legislative decision-making. It provides lawmakers important information to talk with other legislators, delivers unbiased data and information, and gives weight and credibility to healthcare-related bills. We are excited and eager to move forward with this review and expect the findings to strengthen our legislative effort even more.
In addition, we are developing a plan to achieve our stated goal of identifying at least one passionate champion of naturopathic medicine in each of the 49 legislative districts in Washington. We will be doing our best to facilitate meetings in every legislative district in Washington over the summer (primarily via virtual meetings) as a way to introduce elected officials to our doctors and our patients. We will be working on setting up on-site visits (when and where appropriate and safe) where legislators can visit you in your thriving naturopathic practice and better understand the vital role that naturopathic physicians play in keeping Washingtonians healthy. If you are that champion or if you work at a clinic that should be featured in this way, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know! It will be a significant push over the summer and fall, but we know we have an incredible community of support and we think we can do it!
Outside of our efforts on SB 5088, we continue to monitor and weigh in on bills that could impact naturopathic physicians in Washington State. There are several currently moving through the legislature. Last week, we asked our advocates to encourage their State Senators to support SB 5124 to create a new colon hydrotherapist certification process in Washington. Next week, we will ask them to do the same for SB 5246, which requires an increase in reimbursement for primary care services covered by Apple Health(Washington's Medicaid program). This bill has strong support in the legislature but requires a significant budget, so we need to make sure our legislators know we want them to make room in the state budget for this bill. We are also closely monitoring SB 5169, which requires insurers to reimburse providers for the cost of PPE during the COVID-related state of emergency; SSB 5325, which requires reimbursement parity for audio-only telemedicine visits; ESSB 5229, which requires some amount of health equity training for all healthcare providers; and SSB 5292, which establishes a task force aimed at exploring how to create a Parks Rxprogram in Washington. We were also tracking the reimbursement parity efforts of our nurse practitioner colleagues (SB 5222), but that bill was not called for a committee vote after its public hearing in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee.
Check this page regularly for updates as we move through the 2021 Legislative Session.
Helping you help us! Here is your Legislative Action Toolkit!
Immediate Calls To Action
1.) Follow the "3 Simple Steps to Becoming a Political Ally" above.
If you discovered that you live or work in the 4th, 6th, 10th, 18th, 19th, 24th, 26th, 29th, 33rd, 38th, 46th, or 49th Legislative Districts, your elected Senator serves on the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee! Please send a message introducing yourself and sharing personal stories of how SB 5088 would positively impact you/your patients and your community. (See the Letter Templates tab for recommended language or ideas if needed.)
2.) Sign up for timely and targeted calls to action through our political advocacy program. Share this link with your patients, colleagues, family, and friends and encourage them to sign up as well.
3.) Maintain a list of your referral partners and allied healthcare professionals who might be willing to submit Letters of Support. Our opposition is strong and will undoubtedly mobilize their contacts for letters of opposition, so we need both quantity and quality when it comes to these letters. It never hurts to ask, so please ask on our behalf. These letters of support can come from individuals or organizations. In particular, support from conventionally trained providers, addiction service centers, community health organizations, and psychiatric allies would be very helpful for us. These formal letters of support should be addressed to "Honorable Chair Cleveland and Members of the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee", to "Senator Emily Randall" (as our prime sponsor), or "To Whom It May Concern" and should be sent by e-mail to email@example.com. We will collect these letters and get them into the hands of our sponsor at the appropriate time. (See the Letter Templates tab for language and idea recommendations if needed.)
4.) When you hear from us at the WANP, please respond as quickly as you can. Things move fast during legislative session and we often don't have much time to mobilize and respond.
5.) Join us at our next (virtual) Pints & Politics event on Monday, March 1, 2021, at 6:30p. These events are casual spaces where you can ask questions and share your stories and learn how you can best support our efforts.
6.) Finally, reach out to us (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions, words of encouragement, concerns, personal stories (keeping HIPAA in mind!) of patients or others who have been adversely impacted by our lack of prescriptive authority, and/or any political connections you may have.
Show your support by attending our (virtual) Pints & Politics events!
Join the WANP's Governmental Affairs Committee and our lobbyists each month to receive up to the minute updates on our legislative efforts and progress. You can learn a lot about our political efforts, ask questions, and interact with your colleagues in these casual virtual settings. Sometimes we even have very special guests!