Rhode Island becomes the latest state in push for naturopathic licensing

Rhode Island becomes the latest state in push for naturopathic licensing

Naturopaths are aiming to become licensed as primary care physicians in all 50 states with the same scope of practice as MD/DO family practice doctors, including prescription privileges.  However, they will settle for less and keep bugging the legislature year after year until they get what they want.  We see that playing out right now in Colorado where, after having become legally allowed to practice last year, they are back in front of the state legislature for more.  The latest front in the war is Rhode Island, where a licensing bill was introduced on April 9th.  

Rhode Island Senate Bill 2874 is disarming in its simplicity.  Apparently, the naturopaths have learned the art of subtlety in drafting -- getting what you want by not calling too much attention to what it is you are asking for.  But to those who know how to decode the language of naturopathy and are familiar with their ambitions, reading between the lines is illuminating.  

In order to be primary care physicians, they need unlimited authority to diagnose and treat.  This bill starts off innocuously by defining naturopathic medicine as "a system of health care that utilizes education, natural medicines and natural therapies."  But for what purpose does it "utilize?"  To "prevent, diagnose and treat."  In other words, hidden right there, is the authority to diagnose and treat any patient with any disease or condition. In other words, they can do anything an MD or DO can do. 


Oh, but you protest, they can't actually prescribe real drugs.  And indeed they can't.  It says so right there in the bill. Or so you might think. For example, naturopaths like to shoot their patients up with megadose vitamin and mineral "cocktails," homeopathic concoctions and other dubious remedies, via injections and IV lines. But, without prescription privileges they can't do this because, once a dietary supplement or homeopathic product is administered intravenously, it is considered a prescription drug.  Here's how they handle that. The bill would allow them to "administer or provide," among other things, nonprescription medicines, botanical medicines, homeopathic remedies, and "nutritional and dietary therapies."  How benign, one might assume.  And they could not, "prescribe, dispense or administer any prescription medicines."  A good thing, one might think.  But here's an important proviso that might not be obvious to one untrained in their modus operandi.  An exception to the ban on prescription medicines is "those medicines authorized" by the bill.  And here it is that, without ever mentioning, for example, "IV  high dose vitamin cocktails," which might sound scary, they have, in fact, been granted the privilege of injecting patients with IV high dose vitamin cocktails.  

Here's another trap for the unwary.  The bill defines, very broadly but in seemingly innocuous terms, what they are allowed to use to treat their patients as "natural medicines."  And what is "natural?"  It means, according to this bill, "present in, produced by, or derived from nature."  But, you might ask, doesn't pretty much everything fit that definition?  Taken down to the molecular level, isn't everything "natural?"  Or, putting it another way, natural is whatever they say it is.   So what, exactly, is excluded from their prescription privileges?  Anything? That remains to be seen.

 But to diagnose, one needs to have all the tools for diagnosis. Here's how the bill handles that wish list.  First, the bill calls naturopaths, benignly enough, as "naturopathic physicians."  Then,  the bill goes on to say they can use "diagnostic procedures commonly used by physicians in general practice, including orificial examinations, diagnositic imaging techniques, phlebotomy, clinical laboratory tests and examinations, and physicolgical function tests."   Thus, without ever making the direct statement that naturopaths will be allowed to employ, say, CAT and PET scans, and MRIs, and complicated laboratory testing, they will be allowed to use all of these means of diagnosis.  Because they are, as they've said, "physicians."   And they can use "diagnostic procedures commonly used by physicians."  In other words, everything. 

And what will they find with these diagnostic procedures?  No doubt a whole bunch of diseases and conditions that are not "commonly" found by "physicians in general practice."  Such as adrenal fatigue, chronic yeast overgrowth, chronic Lyme disease, food "sensitivities," and the like.  All treatable with "natural medicines," which are whatever naturopaths say they are.  Conveniently delivered by injection or IV.

Who will oversee this sweet deal? Not anything that might sound self-serving, such as a state naturopathic medicine board.  No, it will be the Rhode Island Department of Health.  Sounds assuring, doesn't it.  Not really.  The Department's sole advisors are two naturopaths appointed for that purpose.

Senate bill 2874 allows naturopaths to see the undifferentiated patient (that is, whoever walks in off the street), of any age (including neonates), and to diagnose and treat this patient with any disease or condition (made up or real) with prescription drugs.  Don't be fooled. That is exactly what naturopaths want and it is exactly what they will get if this bill is passed and signed into law by the Governor.

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