Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/26/2004 01:37 PM Senate L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                  SB 306-NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE                                                                              
CHAIR CON BUNDE announced SB 306 to be up for consideration.                                                                    
MR. BRIAN HOVE, staff to Senator  Seekins, sponsor of SB 306, was                                                               
present to answer questions.                                                                                                    
CHAIR  BUNDE  said he  had  asked  if naturopathic  colleges  are                                                               
associated  with traditional  colleges  and had  found that  they                                                               
aren't. He asked if Mr. Hove  knew of any major universities that                                                               
offered a degree in naturopathy.                                                                                                
MR. HOVE replied that he wasn't aware of any.                                                                                   
CHAIR BUNDE  said the Alaska  State Medical  Association suggests                                                               
that if SB 306 is enacted,  it should be amended to keep existing                                                               
law pertaining to naturopaths in  place and add a subsection that                                                               
would hold naturopaths  to the same standard of  care as licensed                                                               
physicians. He asked if anyone wanted to comment on that.                                                                       
SENATOR  SEEKINS asked  what the  Medical Association  defines as                                                               
"same  standard of  care". He  forged  ahead saying  that SB  306                                                               
allows  naturopaths  to  practice  up   to  the  level  of  their                                                               
education and  only prescribe drugs  if they have been  granted a                                                               
Drug  Enforcement  Association  License and  perform  only  minor                                                               
     If it  means that naturopaths  will have to be  held to                                                                    
     the same standard  as the doctor in  the performance of                                                                    
     those duties, I don't see  where anyone would object to                                                                    
     that....  They are  under  a  greater restriction  here                                                                    
     than a  nurse practitioner  or a  physician's assistant                                                                    
     and  have equivalent  or better  educational background                                                                    
     to support that....                                                                                                        
     I think  all performing people  in the area  of medical                                                                    
     practice  should   be  held   to  the  same   level  of                                                                    
     performance  or standard  or performance  equivalent to                                                                    
     the levels of authority  that we're allowing them under                                                                    
     state  law, if  that's the  answer to  the question.  I                                                                    
     have no problem with that.                                                                                                 
CHAIR BUNDE  said he had  no problem  with that either  and added                                                               
that the  Medical Association  also wanted  to keep  the existing                                                               
law  pertaining  to  naturopaths in  place  without  prescription                                                               
rights, if applicable.                                                                                                          
MR. WAYNE ADERHOLD, Homer resident, supported SB 306.                                                                           
     Naturopathic  physicians  have   a  right  to  practice                                                                    
     commensurate with  their training  and to  provide even                                                                    
     more comprehensive  primary care  to their  patients in                                                                    
     Alaska and  I have a right  to receive that care  in my                                                                    
     home state....                                                                                                             
MR. ADERHOLD  said he uses  naturopathic services for  95 percent                                                               
of  his health  care needs  and related  how he  was successfully                                                               
treated  for  melanoma  through surgery  and  non-toxic  adjutant                                                               
therapy  from  a  naturopathic team  in  Arizona,  spending  only                                                               
$20,000 out of pocket. Although he  felt that the State of Alaska                                                               
is somewhat  progressive in allowing naturopaths  to practice, it                                                               
isn't as progressive as Arizona.                                                                                                
     Naturopathic  health  care  is  supported  by  informed                                                                    
     consumers  throughout this  state [Alaska],  because it                                                                    
     is effective both  medically and financially. Consumers                                                                    
     of  naturopathic  services  are  required  to  take  an                                                                    
     active part  in decision-making and  responsibility for                                                                    
     their  own  health.  Naturopathic physicians  are  true                                                                    
     followers  of  the tenant,  first  do  not harm,  which                                                                    
     might be your standard care.                                                                                               
MR.  ADERHOLD  also  supported  regulations  established  by  the                                                               
naturopathic  board  and  informed  the  committee,  "Malpractice                                                               
rates on naturopathic physicians  are miniscule compared to those                                                               
on other physicians."                                                                                                           
CHAIR BUNDE  asked Mr.  Aderhold, in the  course of  his melanoma                                                               
treatment, if he  needed a drug that a  naturopathic doctor could                                                               
have prescribed, but was not able to because of existing law.                                                                   
MR.  ADERHOLD  replied  that  because  he  received  his  initial                                                               
treatment in  Arizona, where naturopaths can  write prescriptions                                                               
for regulated  drugs, he was able  to receive the one  he needed.                                                               
He received mostly unregulated drugs.                                                                                           
MR. MICHAEL YOURKOWSKI,  Homer resident, said he is  a patient of                                                               
Dr.  Patrick Huffman,  ND,  in  Homer and  his  wife  is a  nurse                                                               
practitioner who  works in association  with him.  "Together they                                                               
provide  complementary  medicine  that  patients  really  benefit                                                               
He  stressed  the  importance  of the  licensing  board  and  the                                                               
legitimacy it  would provide for people  who practice naturopathy                                                               
in Alaska.  He claimed his wife  is a nurse practitioner  and has                                                               
the   right  to   prescribe  medicine   while  her   naturopathic                                                               
associate, who has more education, cannot.                                                                                      
MS. SHEVAUN  TONSETH, Anchorage resident,  said she  fully trusts                                                               
her naturopathic  doctor, Dr.  Kayce Rose, and  prefers to  go to                                                               
her  for all  of her  primary care  instead of  going to  her and                                                               
another doctor.  "I feel she  should be  able to prescribe  or do                                                               
minor surgeries to what her training is...."                                                                                    
DR. DAVID  NEWIRTH, ND,  Anchorage, supported  SB 306,  "Based on                                                               
the fact that we do have the  training we're asking to be able to                                                               
practice to that level."                                                                                                        
CHAIR BUNDE  asked him  to comment  on the  Medical Association's                                                               
request that  naturopaths be  held to the  same standard  of care                                                               
and whether there is a different standard of care at this point.                                                                
DR. NEWIRTH replied  that he didn't really  know the particulars,                                                               
but he  didn't see  that there  should be  any difference  in the                                                               
standard of care.                                                                                                               
DR. KAYCE  ROSE, ND, said she  thought that the standard  of care                                                               
is what is really at stake in SB 306.                                                                                           
     To  be able  to insure  that our  patients are  able to                                                                    
     receive  the  care  that   is  most  efficacious,  most                                                                    
     appropriate, for whatever they  are experiencing at the                                                                    
     time  is  contingent  on  our ability  to  be  able  to                                                                    
     prescribe  medicine  when  appropriate.  Our  education                                                                    
     allows us  to be  the most well-trained  physicians for                                                                    
     primary care  out there  because we  have such  a broad                                                                    
     spectrum of  opportunities of  types of  therapies that                                                                    
     we do offer.                                                                                                               
DR.  ROSE said  her  patients  might have  to  spend health  care                                                               
dollars  twice to  get  the same  type of  care.  She related  an                                                               
actual experience  in which one  of her patients  had dangerously                                                               
high blood  sugar and couldn't  wait the  three months to  see an                                                               
endocrinologist  who could  prescribe the  appropriate medication                                                               
and couldn't afford going to a  more emergent type of health care                                                               
DR. ROSE  said that naturopathic  colleges are not  extensions of                                                               
traditional   medical   schools,    but   they   are   accredited                                                               
universities  and are  held to  the same  standards as  any other                                                               
DR.  MADELEINE  MORRISON-YOUNG, ND,  said  she  has practiced  in                                                               
Eagle  River for  seven  years. She  supported  all the  previous                                                               
testimony   and  said   her   education   included  training   in                                                               
antibiotics and hormones.                                                                                                       
     To  be a  primary care  physician and  doing gynecology                                                                    
     every  day  and giving  people  pap  smears, but  being                                                                    
     unable  to prescribe  them their  birth control  pills,                                                                    
     has been  a real struggle  in my practice for  not only                                                                    
     obviously   myself,  because   it's  frustrating,   but                                                                    
     financially  for my  patients.  Sending  them off  with                                                                    
     their  annuals   and  their  pap  results   to  another                                                                    
     practitioner  so  that  they  can get  a  simple  birth                                                                    
     control prescription is frustrating.                                                                                       
DR. YOUNG  said that naturopaths  have been  using bio-identical,                                                               
naturally compounded  hormones for years and  consider themselves                                                               
specialists in the area. She supported SB 306.                                                                                  
MS. PAMELA HANSEN,  Kenai resident, supported SB  306 saying that                                                               
she, her  husband and  her mother  use naturopathic  health care.                                                               
She would  like their doctor to  be able to provide  them all the                                                               
care they  need, i.e. full  prescriptive rights and the  right to                                                               
do minor surgery.  The state she originally came  from gave these                                                               
full rights  to naturopaths in  1962 and  she was amazed  to find                                                               
that Alaska didn't.                                                                                                             
MS. JANE  SIMONS, Kasilof resident,  testified as a mother  and a                                                               
senior. She  has an adult  disabled son who  is 24 years  old and                                                               
she said they  are both receiving Medicaid. She is  forced to use                                                               
a medical doctor  who accepts Medicare and  Medicaid, because she                                                               
cannot afford  to pay  for health  care out-of-pocket.  "The care                                                               
that works for us is naturopathic care."                                                                                        
DR. TORREY  SMITH, ND, said  he has practiced in  Anchorage since                                                               
1992  and supported  SB 306.  He wanted  the freedom  to use  the                                                               
skills he  has and feels  are most appropriate for  his patients.                                                               
He also wants to be able  to give patients the choices they would                                                               
like to have and need in dealing with their health care issues.                                                                 
CHAIR BUNDE  noted that he  hadn't heard a single  person testify                                                               
against this bill,  but he still was searching for  the answer to                                                               
the  question of  the  same  standard of  care  that the  Medical                                                               
Association  has asked  about. He  would let  the bill  move from                                                               
committee today  with the proviso  that he  could amend it  if it                                                               
was necessary.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR  SEEKINS  moved  to  pass  SB  306  from  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  attached  fiscal note.  Senators                                                               
French, Seekins,  Stevens and Bunde  voted yea; and SB  306 moved                                                               
from committee.                                                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects