The Rhode Island Association of Naturopathic Physicians (RIANP) is the professional association for naturopathic doctors (NDs) in Rhode Island. The RIANP’s goal is for all Rhode Islanders to have the option and opportunity to work with a naturopathic doctor and to know that the person providing care has graduated from an accredited 4-year post-baccalaureate naturopathic medical school program and passed the naturopathic medical board exams. A bill that licenses naturopathic doctors in the state of Rhode Island is the way to accomplish this.
Since its founding over sixteen years ago, the RIANP has been working to establish naturopathic doctors as a distinct medical and health entity recognized by the state of Rhode Island and the Department of Health. For over eight years, the RIANP has been working at the legislative level to pass a licensure bill that will ensure individuals who practice naturopathic medicine in Rhode Island have met the minimum standards to provide safe and effective care. This is similar to the way medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy prove minimum competency when obtaining state licenses to practice. A naturopathic licensure bill will do this and also will enable naturopathic doctors in Rhode Island to practice as trained – to perform pertinent physical examinations, to order appropriate laboratory and imaging testing, to diagnose patients, and to treat patients. Without licenses, naturopathic doctors practice as consultants and are limited in the scope of services they can offer and the recommendations they are able to make for their patients. Additionally, without being a licensed and regulated profession, office visits with naturopathic doctors are not covered by any Rhode Island health insurance entity. Health insurance companies will not recognize the profession of naturopathic doctors as a legitimate health care option until the licensure bills become law. Until that time, any patient who wants to see a Rhode Island naturopathic doctor needs to pay out of pocket for the office visits. This out of pocket cost makes naturopathic medicine inaccessible to many Rhode Islanders.
In February of 2017, the RIANP again submitted licensure bills (House Bill 5474 and Senate Bill 327) and has been working at the State House to increase both understanding of and support for naturopathic doctors. This Wednesday, March 15, 2017 is the Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) Committee hearing on House Bill 5474. There are several actions that can be taken to support this licensure bill, and the bill on the senate side. Come to the hearing tomorrow and show your support. Contact HEW Chairman Joseph McNamara, and urge him to support HB5474. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his phone number is 401-222-2296. Contact Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Chairman Joshua Miller, and urge him to support SB327. The email address for Chairman Miller is email@example.com and his phone number is 401-276-5507. Please copy the RIANP on your emails of support at RInaturopaths@gmail.com. You can also contact your state representative and senator and ask them to support these bills. This is especially important if they are on the HEW or HHS committees that will be hearing the licensure bills. In addition to the above actions, you can visit www.RIANP.org and sign up for the health e-newsletter to stay updated on these efforts as well as going on Facebook and liking the Rhode Island Association of Naturopathic Physicians. With your help, Rhode Island will be able to join the rest of New England and become a state that licenses naturopathic doctors.