Jerry Kopel

KOPEL: WILL SUN RISE ON NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE?

Medical Society spurns naturopath regulation

It is a long, grueling battle between those already under health care regulation and those who want to be regulated.

The fight by naturopathic physicians (NP) to obtain regulation continues to run smack against the Colorado Medical Society. The CMS has a long record of opposition to opening doors for alternative medicine. In the states where NPs function under regulation, they have successfully attended accredited four-year graduate level naturopathic medical schools.

Eventually, the CMS loses almost every war.

The NP practice can be summarized as “helping the body heal itself in the least invasive, most fundamental curative manner possible.” By 2005, if not earlier, the Department of Regulatory Agencies had decided the practice needed to be regulated under the standards set up for a successful Sunrise application.

Sunrise asks whether the unregulated practice clearly harms or endangers the health of consumers. DORA answers “yes.” Next, does the public expect to benefit from initial and continuing professional competence? Another DORA “yes.” Sunrise asks whether the public can be adequately protected by other means in a more cost-effective manner. DORA answers “no.”

“Regulation” claims the applicant “can be distinguished among various practices of naturopathy in regards to training, qualification and scope of practice.”

The alternatives CMS formerly objected to regulating, such as “lay midwives, occupational therapists, osteopaths, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation and the therapeutic application of nutrition,” have “become more accepted within mainstream medicine.”

Opponents in 2010 may claim DORA refused to accept a new NP application in 2009. That was because the present report, made public in 2008, continues to present DORA’s position through the year 2010.

The attempt in 2009 to pass House Bill 1175 for naturopathy regulation succeeded in the House on a 40-to-24 vote and died in a Senate committee. This year, the Colorado Medical Act is subject to Sunset review and possible, but unlikely, repeal.

Whether the CMA licensees are strong enough to avoid anti-abortion and other social conservative amendments might well depend on whether the CMA is ready to accept regulation of the NPs who have graduated from accredited NP schools, who have passed the necessary exams under the jurisdiction of DORA, and are subject to disciplinary punishment for violations.

Practitioners who don’t meet the high standards set out for NPs would face possible criminal charges if their actions included those limited in scope to regulated NPs.

States that presently regulate NPs with strong laws are Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington. In very many instances, the NPs practicing in Colorado are licensed in one of those states.

According to DORA “naturopathic medicine has been practiced in the U.S. and Europe throughout history. Conventional medicine and naturopathy were at one time quite similar in their use of medicinal plants, diet therapies and hydrotherapy treatment. Only within the last 40 to 50 years has conventional medicine diverged from this path.... the rise of medical technology and the use of miracle drugs like antibiotics, were all contributing factors to the split.”

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Who should license solar-panel installers?

Correction to an earlier column listing bills expected in 2010. The regulation of solar panel installers sought through a Sunrise report resulted in HB 1136 by Rep. John Soper, D-Adams, a retired electrician and Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Adams. The bill did draw 13 votes against passage in the Senate and 21 negative votes in the House. Perhaps this was because it gave authority to the Electrician Board to determine the process for licensing installers.

As reported by the DORA Sunrise report, “although no statute or board rule explicitly requires PV Solar Electric Installers to be licensed electricians, it is unclear whether the Board has the authority to assert its
jurisdiction, either through rule or otherwise over PV Solar Electric Installers.”

DORA also states “Requiring Solar Electric Installers to be licensed electricians could limit the number of ... installers in Colorado. A licensed electrician possesses a broad array of skills related to the electrical field. By contrast, a PV solar electric system installer is a specialized scope of practice, whereby licensing in the entire electrical field of practice may not be necessary.

The new law gave authority to the governing and processing of installers into the system to Electrician Board members under CRS 12-23-102. There was no change to allow one of the nine positions to be a Solar Electrical Installer. The Electrician Regulation Law is up for 2010 Sunset review, which could include repeal — but that’s not likely.

If the installers want protection, this next year is the time to obtain it. There are strong laws in eight states regulating installers: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Utah.

Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.