Support Naturopathic Licensure in Colorado
Colorado needs a Naturopathic Law
Our association strongly supports passage of a law to regulate the practice of naturopathic medicine in Colorado. There are three reasons why we support regulation.
1. Public Safety
Regulation would set standardsof training and competence for the practice of naturopathic medicine. A regulatory agency would hold practitioners calling themselves naturopathic doctors accountable and provide an avenue for public complaint about substandard care.
Lack of regulation opens the door to individuals using false credentials to call themselves naturopathic doctors and practice health care in Colorado. In 2005 and 2008, the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) concluded in official reports to the legislature that the current situation poses a threat to public safety and recommended regulation.
Fifteen (15) states currently require naturopathic doctors to be licensed. They are Utah, Kansas, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont. In addition, Puerto Rico, Washington DC, and the US Virgin Islands, as well as seven Canadian provinces also regulate naturopathic medicine.
[Licensing NDs Benefits Colorado]
2. Better Health Care
Naturopathic doctors are specialists in natural health care. Combining naturopathic therapies with standard medical options can improve patient outcome. Naturopathy’s focus on prevention, lower cost, and use of safer therapies addresses many of the problems that modern health care faces.
[Risky Business for legitimate doctors]
3. Practitioner Protection
Current Colorado law turns decent people into criminals for engaging in an occupation they are trained and qualified to practice. The absence of regualtory oversight makes the naturopathic scope of practice in Colorado illegal for the naturopathic doctors currently working in this state.
Several naturopathic doctors in Colorado have received cease and desist orders from the medical board. Removing this threat of legal prosecution will encourage more qualified practitioners to serve the Colorado public and provide greater access to the benefits of natural health care. (Danger to the public)
Naturopathic medicine is an emerging profession
Like other health care professions, naturopathic medicine must set standards of education and training. The profession must hold practitioners accountable for their actions. There are ten times as many naturopathic doctors practicing in Colorado now compared to when our association first asked the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) for regulation.
We thought it was time to regulate 15 years ago. Colorado Law gives DORA specific requirements a profession must fulfill before the state regulates it. The most important requirement is to demonstrate the risk of harm to the public caused by not regulating. When the CANP first applied for licensure in 1992, DORA did not feel this risk was substantial and recommended against licensure. During the intervening years, Colorado has become a haven for those who take advantage of this unregulated status.
Groups have issued fake state licenses, diplomas from nonexistent naturopathic colleges and certificates from fake regulatory boards. When Brian O’Connell was arrested in March of 2003, the level of deception engaged in by these practitioners became obvious. Mr. O’Connell, who claimed to be a naturopathic medical doctor, practiced for several years in Wheatridge, Colorado. He was convicted in February 2006 on numerous charges including manslaughter and is currently in prison.
The Colorado Association of Naturopathic Physicians believes in regulation rather than prosecution. If naturopathic regulatory laws were in place, people like Brian O’Connell would not be pretending to be doctors in Colorado. Waiting until people have been injured or killed and then prosecuting them is more costly than establishing standards for a profession and upholding them.
Regulation is cheaper than prosecution
Fifteen other states require naturopathic doctors to graduate from accredited schools, pass licensing examinations and create a regulatory board to supervise naturopathic doctors.
A nationally standardized Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX) has been established which is used in the states that currently regulate NDs.
The fifteen states which license NDs are Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. In addition, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and six Canadian provinces also license naturopathic doctors. In all of these jurisdictions, NDs practice as independent general practitioners with oversight from a state regulatory board. Licensed NDs are required to complete annual continuing education, practice responsibly and meet all of the individual state requirements in order to maintain their license. A licensed ND has unique expertise in natural medicine while also possessing the ability to diagnose and treat medical conditions, perform physical exams, and order laboratory testing. In many of the states that license naturopathic doctors, health care consumers may specifically choose NDs as their primary health care providers.
DORA reports recommend regulation
In their October 2005 Sunrise Review, the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) recommended that the Colorado legislature pass laws to regulate the profession. After careful study of the profession in Colorado DORA concludes that,
“current evidence supports regulation of naturopathic physicians in Colorado.”
The full text of the 2005 DORA Report may be downloaded in PDF format for free at: http://www.dora.state.co.us/opr/archive/2005Naturopaths.pdf
In the January 2008 Sunrise Review, DORA once again recommended regulation of naturopathic doctors in Colorado:
“a licensing scheme, by any label, should be implemented, since it would offer the public the greatest level of regulatory protection.”
The full text of the 2008 DORA Report may be downloaded in PDF format for free at: http://www.dora.state.co.us/opr/archive/2008NaturopathicPhysiciansSunrise.pdf
Support licensing in Colorado
Help us build our grassroots network to bring safe naturopathic medicine by trained practitioners to Colorado. For more information, please click on the “Contact” link above to contact us. Thank you for your support!