IMG_0773The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as Obama Care, includes numerous mentions of the words “wellness” and “prevention” while also emphasizing the importance of cost-effective health care, yet the words “naturopathic medicine” are not mentioned once. The Federal Government has recognized the need in healthcare for exactly what naturopathic doctors (NDs) offer but there is still a steep learning curve to bring legislators up to speed about who naturopathic doctors are and what we bring to the healthcare table.

For being a relatively small profession of 4,500 NDs in the country, we do have a united and strong voice. This was evidenced in the successful and unanimous passage of Senate Resolution 221 last year which declared the first national Naturopathic Medicine Week in October 2013 as sponsored by Maryland’s Senator Mikulski.

On April 28, 2014 over 120 naturopathic students and doctors representing 43 states pounded the marble floors of the Houses of Congress to promote the benefits of naturopathic care for lowering chronic disease rates and saving healthcare dollars at the annual Naturopathic Lobby Day in Washington D.C. hosted by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP).

We had two primary objectives:

1. Asking federal legislators to support the future introduction of a bill to include NDs in Medicare as physician level providers, giving seniors affordable access to naturopathic care.

2. Requesting support for the introduction of both Senate and House Resolutions to declare the week of October 6, 2014 as Naturopathic Medicine Week.

Our messages were well received in the office of Maryland Senators Mikulski and Cardin and Congressman Sarbanes. The day concluded with a well-attended Health Fair reception where Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton from Washington DC was honored for her commitment to supporting the charism and principles of naturopathic medicine.