October 24, 2016
HEALING ARTS: Changing the ‘script’ Naturopathic physicians seek authority to write prescriptions
According to a newly released study, 55% of older Americans who live in states that license naturopathic physicians would consider seeking care from a naturopathic physician. Because naturopathic physicians are not currently eligible to participate in Medicare, however, most seniors are not able to obtain care from a naturopathic physician despite their desire to do so.
The study was conducted by Infosurv, a leading survey research company. Infosurv surveyed 384 individuals 65 years of age and older who live in states that license naturopathic physicians. The survey provides a margin of error of +/- 5% percentage points.
The survey found that fewer than one in four older Americans who would consider visiting a naturopathic physician would choose to do so if they had to pay the cost of the visit out of pocket, yet nearly 100% would likely visit a naturopathic physician if the visit were covered by Medicare.
Dr. Kasra Pournadeali, President of the AANP, remarked, “The seniors I and many other naturopathic physicians see understand the importance of self-care, personal responsibility, and non-drug methods in staying healthy. They also understand how naturopathic physicians have training in natural and conventional methods and are best-equipped to recommend effective non-drug treatments when appropriate. Isn’t it time to end the mandate that seniors can only access a physician trained solely in costly, drug therapies? Isn’t it time to allow our elderly access to other effective and less-costly methods?”
The study found a high level of interest in natural approaches to treat illness. Seventy-five percent of Medicare beneficiaries prefer that their doctor use natural therapies first, such as improved diet or supplements, before prescribing drugs or surgery. The interest in natural therapies may reflect concerns about the side effects of prescription drugs, since the survey found that 42% of seniors who take prescription drugs are worried about side effects.
“The study is a wake-up call to policy makers,” commented Jud Richland, CEO of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). “Seniors are saying loud and clear that they want Medicare to provide access to holistic care providers such as licensed naturopathic physicians. Millions of Americans have paid Medicare taxes all their working lives, but when the time comes to participate in Medicare, they find that the services they want aren’t available.”
More information is available at www.naturopathic.org/medicare.