Prescription Rights for Naturopathic Physicians
For nearly 100 years, Connecticut has supported diversity in healthcare by licensing naturopathic physicians. Unfortunately, the state laws surrounding naturopathic medicine do not reflect the current education and training that modern naturopathic doctors (NDs) receive. These outdated laws serve to limit the type of care these physicians can offer to their patients. The Connecticut law regulating naturopathic physicians was passed in January 1922 and since that time has only been revised once.
NDs have had drug prescribing rights in other states for many decades, and have an excellent safety and malpractice record. With limited prescriptive authority, Connecticut NDs would be able to provide more primary care services. As a point of reference, the required instructional hours at University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine total 4,515 hours, comprised of 765 hours of basic sciences, 2,358 hours of clinical sciences, 1,392 hours of clinical practice, and 158 hours of pharmacology and drug therapeutics instruction. The total number of instructional hours is similar to local conventional medical school programs, which range from 4,300 to 5,100 hours.
At press time, there are four proposed bills from legislators that support initiatives for naturopathic physicians to gain limited prescription authority. The rights would be for a limited formulary of medications for naturopathic physicians in Connecticut, enabling patients to access a wider scope of treatment during a single physician visit rather than having to visit multiple providers for the same condition.
The Bills Are:
• SB 624: An Act Allowing Naturopathic Physicians To Prescribe Medication.
• HB 5915: An Act Concerning The Granting Of Limited Prescriptive Authority To Naturopathic Physicians To Improve Patient Access To Care.
• HB 5902: An Act Concerning Naturopathic Medicine.
• HB 5646: An Act Expanding The Scope Of Naturopathic Physicians.
April 3 is the drop-dead date for the Joint Committee on Public Health to vote a bill out to the floor of the state House or Senate. If the bills are not called by then, then efforts to get prescriptive authority this legislative cycle are done. If this issue speaks to you, capitalize on current legislative support by contacting your legislators, educating them on the importance of naturopathic prescribing and asking them to support this effort. Reach out to your legislators to inform them of your opinion on these bills and personal experience related to care with naturopathic physicians.
Take action by visiting CongressWeb.com/AANP/71. Type in your home address to send a pre-written letter to your local legislator, either through an e-form or by printing it out and mailing it with your signature. Resources on the website also include legislative talking points, independent studies, and a ND versus MD education sheet.