Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124
03/01/2010 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE
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HB 282-NATUROPATHS 5:08:18 PM CHAIR OLSON announced that the final order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 282, "An Act relating to naturopaths and to the practice of naturopathy; establishing an Alaska Naturopathic Medical Board; authorizing medical assistance program coverage of naturopathic services; amending the definition of 'practice of medicine'; and providing for an effective date." KENDRA KLOSTER, Staff, Representative Cathy Munoz, Alaska State Legislature, briefly presented HB 282, on behalf of the prime sponsor, Representative Cathy Munoz. She explained that HB 282 would establish an Alaska Naturopathic Medical Board. She paraphrased the sponsor statement, which read [original punctuation provided]: House Bill 282 creates a Naturopathic Medical Board for the purpose of expanding allowed practices and procedures of Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) and regulates the practice of naturopathic medicine. The board will consist of three naturopaths, one licensed pharmacist, and one public member. The board will work with the Division of Occupational Licensing to issue licenses, and will have authority to investigate and discipline as required. In addition, the state will authorize prescription endorsement which will be offered for the first time for NDs who have practiced for five years; participated in 60 hours of pharmacology education from an approved program; and met all the requirements relating to administration and prescription of drugs, vaccinations, hormones, and medical devices. The prescription endorsement must be renewed every two years. The bill mandates continuing medical education of 35 hours biannually, 15 of which must be in pharmacy education. Prescribing authority will give flexibility to NDs to provide necessary medical treatment to patients. Prescription rights, which are already permitted for advanced nurse practitioners, will allow access to a range of commonly prescribed medicines that can be used in correlation with naturopathic treatment to improve patient care. HB 282 will align the definition of a naturopathic physician with the U.S. Department of Labor which released a new definition of naturopathic physician to include job titles of "Naturopathic Doctor, Physician, and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine." This is an important step in recognizing NDs as qualified doctors and primary care physicians. Naturopathic doctors are highly trained medical professionals. NDs attend a four-year postgraduate professional naturopathic medical program and are educated in the same basic sciences as conventional medical students. Studies concentrate on holistic and traditional approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimization of wellness. Naturopathic doctors take similar rigorous professional board exams for licensure and continue educational training each year. As Alaska continues to face shortages in the healthcare professions, HB 282 provides an avenue to help fill the gap of primary care physicians. This bill will reasonably expand the services of naturopaths and follow the responsibilities set forth by the board while providing the important services for keeping Alaskans healthy. MS. KLOSTER commented that Emily Kane, Naturopathic Doctor (ND), just brought to her attention an excerpt from the California Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine, which states that the California Bureau contacted the licensing agencies for each state that allow ND's to prescribe. None of these states reported any patient harm or disciplinary action due to an ND prescribing medications. In addition, these states were not aware of any civil actions against ND's for prescribing medications. CHAIR OLSON announced that HB 282 would be held over.