September Legislative Update Jeff Clark | OANP Board
This has been an interesting year so far with the PPACA 2706 non-discrimination law coming into effect on January 1, 2014. The response of health insurers has ranged from completely ignoring it, to not being sure what it means, to some moving NDs off the alternative care list and putting us in as simply another provider type under the general medicine benefits.
In Salem I've been attending committee meetings held by the Oregon Insurance Division (OID) with the commissioner herself in attendance. The goal of these meetings is to have OID constituents of health insurers, providers and community members like OSPIRG have input to the drafting of a legislative bill that defines what is an adequate health insurance network. It has been an eye opening experience to say the least. Many contacts have been made with those around the table. OANP's input to the process has been to insist that provider type non-discrimination make it to this new state law and assisting the insurance division by representing the general medicine provider viewpoint on various other topics within the topic of network adequacy.
Speaking of the Oregon Insurance Division, we met with them recently to talk about the non-discrimination complaints we have filed this year. Because of all of my interactions -- I'm convinced that the leadership and staff are sincere and well meaning people. The problem at the moment is that they are stuck. PPACA 2706 is a Federal Law and the only two places it can be interpreted when there is a difference of opinion is Health and Human Services (HHS) back in Washington, DC, or in Federal Court. Understandably OID is currently dragging their feet not wanting to get out in front of how things get interpreted and handed down from the federal level. Carrie Baldwin-Sayre and I will be in Salem in October presenting to Oregon Insurance Division staff on the topic of "What is naturopathic medicine?" This will not change how rules get made or followed, but it will give them context on who and what we are, and how we fit into Oregon's over all healthcare workforce.
As all of you who take health insurance know, things are better, but fair treatment has definitely not yet arrived. OANP's next steps are working to set up meetings with insurers one by one, to sit down and talk with them about ND scope of practice in Oregon and non-discrimination. Laura is working at the national level as a new board member of AANP, and has submitted comments on our behalf to HHS for non-discrimination rule making. We are examining all the pressure points and feel we may have found a crack or two to leverage. Stay tuned, we are not giving up, and you should all remain hopeful. We are a good hearted profession, collectively we have endured much for a very long time to be where we are now -- still caring for our patients every day. Blue sky is ahead, flowers are sure to bloom in our desert and surprise us all!