Legislation Affecting Alternative Therapies
There are a number of
states that already have laws or regulations that protect patient
access to alternative therapies from licensed physicians. Some of
these are discussed on our Legislation
Already Passed page. To read the complete text, go to Health
Lobby's State Laws page.
As we hear about states
working on legislation that affects alternative therapies, we will add
the information to this page. Two sites that track each
states legislation are http://www.healthlobby.com/news2.html
If you need help locating
a Senator or member of the House of Representatives, see Your
Representatives, or if you just need their e-mail address, see e-mail
links. You should be writing or calling your representatives to
encourage their vote in the right direction or to let them know how
you feel about how they voted on a particular bill.
Thomas Navarro FDA
Patient Rights Act (H.R. 3677) gives
patients, rather than the Food and Drug Administration, the power
to choose the method of medical treatment. The Act reforms the
powers of the FDA so that the agency provides full disclosure of
treatment options and cannot block patient access to treatments.
The Act also assures that scientific research can advance based on
safety and efficacy. Urge your representatives to support this
important bill, named for a young boy fighting cancer, that would
empower patients to choose their own medical treatment. For more
information, go to Cancer
- AMTA - the Access to
Medical Treatment Act
To allow patients access to drugs and medical devices recommended
and provided by health-care practitioners that are not approved by
the Food and Drug Administration, and for other purposes. This
will allow state-licensed health-care providers to utilize safe,
non-FDA approved, alternative therapies that have a reasonable
expectation of therapeutic gain if the patient has been fully
informed about the treatment. It is being supported by many and would permit health-care practitioners to
provide "any medical treatment that the individual desires"
that does not violate licensing laws. It states that practitioners may
provide the treatment if: (a) it is not known to be directly harmful,
(b) the patient is given written notice that the treatment is not
government approved, and (c) written information is provided about the
nature, anticipated benefits, and foreseeable side effects of the
treatment. The Act would also require that dangerous outcomes be
reported to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and that
beneficial outcomes be reported to the NIH Office of Alternative
This legislation will allow those
health professionals (with appropriate training) who wish to use
complementary and alternative therapies to do so free from
harassment, censure, or disciplinary actions and significantly
broaden the healing options available to American consumers. Again
this year an AMTA bill has been introduced in the House and the
Senate. The House bill is HR1964. The Senate bill is S1378. The
American Preventive Medical Association has been a major player
promoting this important legislation. Periodically check their web
site (http://apma.net) under
Federal Affairs. They currently have a link to a Library of
Congress site where you can enter the bill number - HR1964 - and
get to inspect the actual wording of the bill and a list of
For more information,
Candace Campbell, Executive Director
American Preventive Medical Association
P.O. Box 458 Great Falls, Virginia 22066
800-230-APMA Fax 703-759-6711
- PBOR - Patient's Bills of
Rights - There are several Patient's Bills of Rights before
the senate and house - HR 2563 would mandate that insurance
companies cover the cost of clinical trials. For more information,
go to http://olpa.od.nih.gov/Legislation/accessclintrial.htm.
Millions of California citizens visit alternative health care
providers each year. However, few know that their freedom to access
these services is under potential threat.
According to California's Medical
Practices Act, anyone who "treats" for any "ailment,
blemish, deformity, disease, disfigurement, disorder, injury, or other
physical or mental condition of any person" without the benefit
of state licensure may, at least technically, be practicing medicine
without a license.
As a result, most practitioners of
massage, naturopathy, homeopathy, Chinese and other forms of herbalism,
ayurveda, reiki, and dozens of other beneficial healing modalities
face the potential threat of prosecution, even if they cause no one
The laws that govern medical practice
in California (as well as in most states) are extremely broad in scope
-- i.e. they prohibit virtually any kind of treatment or diagnosis except
by a licensed medical practitioner. In particular, California's
Business and Professions Code Section 2052 states that:
Any person who practices or
attempts to practice, or who advertises or holds himself or herself
out as practicing, any system or mode of treating the sick or
afflicted in this state, or who diagnoses, treats, operates for, or
prescribes for any ailment, blemish, deformity, disease,
disfigurement, disorder, injury, or other physical or mental
condition of any person, without having at the time of so doing a
valid, unrevoked, or unsuspended certificate as provided in this
chapter, or without being authorized to perform such act pursuant to
a certificate obtained in accordance with some other provision of
law, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Because of this law, almost all of the
alternative practitioners in California face the very real threat of
being prosecuted for "practicing medicine without a
license," even if there is no claim of harm or irresponsibility
against them. This is why
legislation in our state is so important.
Currently, eleven states license naturopathic medicine (Alaska,
Arizona, Conneticut, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon,
Utah, Vermont, Washington). Other
states have naturopathic licensing bills pending. Also,
Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have licensing laws. If
you have a specific question about a particular state, you can
contact AANP (The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians) Board
Member Julie Taylor, ND, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s some controversy in the
alternative health care community regarding naturopathic state
licensing bills. Naturopathic
licensing bills apply to individuals who have received a naturopathic
doctorate from an accredited naturopathic university.
These schools are only available in states that currently
license naturopathic medicine.
Those arguing in favor of these bills
say they are needed to allow ND’s that have been trained to do
medical practices (such as giving an intravenous drip (IV), stitching
a wound, or lancing a boil) the freedom to practice to the full scope
of their training. In
states in which naturopathy is not licensed, ND’s are prohibited
from these practices – thus limiting the nature of the care they can
provide to individuals with advanced illness.
This is especially true in cancer care, in which IV’s with
high concentrations of vitamin C, antioxidants, and other immune
system support supplements are commonly used.
Those arguing against these licensing
bills argue that most licensing bills include an exclusivity clause,
which, if the bill passes, would preclude other complementary and
alternative health care practitioners from practicing.
This would include all traditionally trained naturopaths,
aroma-therapists, nutritionists, homeopaths, and herbalists who have
not graduated from an accredited naturopathic university.
In addition, opposition groups argue that the healing arts
should remain within the public domain, and that because most
modalities are extremely safe, their practice should not be subject to
Obviously, both groups have valid
said this, Cancer Cure Foundation includes mention here of the
California naturopathic licensing bill.
For information on other state licensing bills, see www.naturopathic.org.
California ND Licensing:
“The California Association of Naturopathic Physician’s (CANP's)
proposed legislation to license Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) to practice
in California was released in October 2001 in the form of a pre-print
bill, submitted by Senator Don Perata (D-Oakland). A pre-print bill
allows the CANP to negotiate details of the proposed legislation with
various stakeholders before formal introduction next session. The bill
accomplishes these major goals:”
“Defines the qualifications for a practitioner to use the title
2. “Defines a scope of practice based on education and
3. “Provides the ability to legally prevent, diagnose and treat
4. “Provides an independent practice status”
5. “Does not restrict access to any practitioner or therapy”
For more details, see
the CANP website, www.canp.org
S.B. 577 –
California Health Freedom Bill was introduced by Democratic Senator
John Burton in April of 2001. The bill supports the consumers right to access alternative
health care practitioners by allowing alternative practitioners to
legally practice under certain restrictions.
In particular, it explicitly defines those practices that are
prohibited to unlicensed practitioners.
The bill states that as
long as a practitioner refrains from certain activities reserved for
medical doctors (that is, they do not call themselves a physician,
perform surgery, recommend of comment on the recommendation of
prescription drugs, perform radiation, puncture the skin or harmfully
invade the body, or diagnose and treat in a way that causes great bodily
harm), that practitioner is legally allowed to offer their services as a
healer/health care provider.
For more information on
SB577 and/or to register your support, see the California Health Freedom
Coalition website, www.californiahealthfreedom.org,
or email email@example.com.
S.B. 577 Update December 2001
– “The CHFC made an excellent and well-received presentation of
their bill, SB577, during a Senate Hearing on alternative medicine
that took place on October 23 in Sacramento. CHFC secretary David
Palmer first presented the overall rationale and approach behind
SB577. Namely, that as long as a person does not perform a potentially
dangerous medical procedure or harm anyone, he or she should not be
considered to be practicing medicine without a license. In essence,
SB577 would narrow the scope of the Medical Practice Act -- which
currently covers anything that anyone could possibly do to heal
someone -- to only those medical practices that are potentially
dangerous. David's presentation was followed by that of board member
Amy Lansky, who described her son's recovery from autism due to
homeopathic treatment. Amy made a strong and stirring case for how
alternative healing therapies are truly needed in California.”
“The October 23 hearing was called by
Senator Liz Figueroa, chair of the Senate Business and Professions
Committee -- the committee that regulates medical practice in the
state. She initiated the hearing because she has strong interest in
complementary and alternative medicine and recognizes that there are
currently problems surrounding this issue in California. During the
hearing, testimony was given by various groups including: the
naturopathic physicians who are seeking a licensing law for their form
of practice; groups who are opposed to licensing approaches to
alternative medicine; the CHFC; insurance industry representatives;
and a few doctors who feel they have been unfairly prosecuted by the
medical board because they use alternative methods.”
(from the CHFC website)
The CHFC expects SB 577 to be reviewed
by the Senate Business and Professions Committee in late January/early
February 2002. See the
CHFC website for more details – www.californiahealthfreedom.org
2100 "Physicians' Right to Practice" was signed by the governor on September 25, 2000. This is a study
law that will generate a legislative report that will influence
legislation in the future.
"On or before January 1, 2002, the board
shall establish guidelines for licensed physicians and surgeons to use
if they choose to practice alternative, complementary, or integrative
medicine. The board shall solicit the participation of interested
parties in the development and preparation of these guidelines and
shall consult technical advisors as necessary to fulfill the purposes
of this article. The guidelines shall include, but need not be limited
to …Particular training requirements for physicians needed to
practice specific types of alternative medicine."
provisions mandate the CBM (California
Medical Board) .
optimistic view would have them adopting progressive regulations
similar to those adopted by Texas in 1998.
statute forbids prescribing, giving, or even having cancer treatments
not approved by the FDA or California state. [Sect.1707.1]
S.B. 2100 Update December 2001
– California Citizens for Health presented testimony at the October
23rd California Senate Business & Professional
Committee Hearing on Alternative Medicine.
(This was an informational hearing organized by Senator Liz
Figueroa’s office and included testimony from a number of groups on
a range of issues related to alternative medicine in California.
(e.g. MD right to practice alternative medicine (SB2100),
naturopathic physician licensing, and narrowing the scope of the
Medical Practice Act (SB 577). Most likely additional informational hearings on legislative
issues related to alternative medicine in California will follow in
the coming year. To order
a videotape of the hearing, see www.citizenshealth.org/video.htm.
Citizens for Health also submitted a list of recommendations to the
California Joint Legislative Sunset Review Committee on December 4,
2001. The recommendations
pertain to the California Medical Board’s policies for dealing with
physicians in private practice that are using alternative methods.
Citizens for Health Director Frank Cuny says the review
committee will be considering recommendations from testimony and
submitted written material in the coming months. Their report is
expected in March of 2002. To To
order a videotape of the Sunset Review hearing, see www.citizenshealth.org/sunvideo.htm.
On May 10, 2002, Gary
Gitnick, M.D. was elected president of the California Medical Board at
their quarterly meeting. In accepting this role, he stated what he
considers priorities for the board. He talked about several issues
important to legislation in California:
- The first issue he talked about was
the right of physicians to practice alternative medicine. He
believes the Board needs to see that physicians are given the
right and protection to practice good medicine, alternative and
the Board needs to discipline physicians, alternative and
conventional, who practice bad medicine.
- He discussed supporting a bill that
would provide greater information to consumers on licensed
physicians, i.e., malpractice suits, discipline action etc.
- The need to make quality medicine
available to all citizens of California.
- Having the Medical Board become a
more effective organization.
The Board’s quarterly meeting in May
was held in Newport Beach. SB-2100,
the bill sponsored by our California Citizens For Health organization,
required the Board to establish a Committee on Alternative Medicine.
This Committee was to make recommendations to the legislature
on changes of Board policies that would enable physicians to more
freely practice alternative medicine.
This Committee was also asked to formulate changes that should
be made in the current state regulations. The
Board at the recommendation of the Committee adopted the following two
physician whose practice is not conventional must have a complaint
filed against him prior to being investigated.
- A physician whose practice involves
CAM shall have his case sent to two expert reviewers, one in the
same specialty area as the physician and one who
is an expert in the CAM modality being practiced.
Legislation was passed March 2001. Go to our legislation
passed page for details.
749 - Complementary &
Alternative Health Care Freedom
Introduced by Pam
bill protects the right of individuals to treat themselves or to be
treated by the health care of their choice to allow them to secure
individual physical or mental wellness without legal restrictions.
complementary and alternative health care practitioner would have the
right to practice after providing disclosures, notices and informed
consent to the patient before treatment begins and the patient has
returned the consent form to the practitioner.
informed consent form provided to the patient must include the
practitioner’s title, health care philosophy, and services
available, as well as the practitioner’s education, experience,
training and credentials, continuing education and professional
affiliations related to the complementary and alternative health care
he practices. It must, also, state that the patient must see a
licensed allopathic practitioner if he desires medical diagnosis or
services. Allopathy is conventional medicine and does not include
Lawsuits may be filed in court if the
patient suffers damages.
Ecology Representatives Childers, Ch., 656-5141; Orrock, V-Ch.,
656-9198; Jones, 656-0220; Beasley, 656-0188; Brown, 656-0177; Irvin,
656-5058; Jackson, 656-3996; Shipp, 656-0314; Smith, 656-5069; Trense,
656-0137; Unterman, 656-0177; West, 656-0116; & Williams,
May 25, 2002, Naturopathy bill advances to governor - legislation
would set up regulations but not licensure.
The Report of the Taskforce on Complementary and Alternative
Medicine, required by House Bill 160, included the following recommendations:
practices that could benefit patients and improve care should be given
reasonable and responsible latitude." Further points define duty
to routine practice standards re: physical, history record keeping,
to patients in relation to physician's training and the risks of
non-physicians: permit unregulated practice for aromatherapy,
acupressure, massage, nutrition, reflexology, hypnosis, and vitamin
therapy that "present little risk or are not invasive."
(Further points define duty to disclose options and risks to
Almost all the Kentucky
doctors that use alternative therapies have been either forced out of state or forced to desist from
using alternative therapies, especially chelation therapy, because it
"departs from prevailing practice in the State of
is hoped that legislation will be presented to help this situation.
Nellie Peters, President
Kentucky Patient's Rights Advocacy Group
Two bills are pending: Assembly
bill, AB 2130 and Senate bill, SB 875
bills would permit physicians to dispense homeopathic and dietary
supplements from their offices. Currently, Board
of Medical Examiners regulations
interpret state law in a way that severely limits access to dietary
supplements through medical doctors. See FAIMs
development, The NJ Supreme Court has advanced informed consent and
med law to include the requirement that physicians advise their
patients of all available treatment alternatives -- even the ones they
don't approve of.
Foundation for the Advancement of Innovative Medicine
will be introduced soon to define
medical necessity for insurance benefits. For
more on the NY Medical Necessity legislation, go to FAIM's Medical
will be introduced soon to reform the Office of Professional Medical
Conduct. Currently over nine New York physicians are facing charges of
misconduct for use of non-conventional therapies. Go
to FAIM's OPMC Reform page
York already has laws that protect patient access to alternative therapies
from licensed physicians. To view the laws, go to the Health
The Complementary and
Alternative Health Freedom of Access Act (S4857) was introduced by
Republican State Senator Kemp Hannon, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee,
on April 17, 2001. Similar legislation (A8704) was introduced by Democratic
State Assemblypersons Mike Genaris and Vivian Cook on May 8, 2001.
The proposed Acts protect the
public’s access to information about all natural, low risk practices of health
care, and they protect access to all ethically practicing providers.
Unlicensed practitioners are prohibited from harmful practices such as
making medical diagnoses or prescribing or proscribing prescription drugs,
invading the body by puncture of the skin or surgery, and manipulating the
The main form of public
protection in the Acts is the requirement that a Client Bill of Rights be read
and signed before unlicensed treatment begins.
This Client Bill of Rights requires the reporting of more information
about a practice and a practitioner than exists anywhere in health care today.
For more information, see the
New York Natural Health Project’s website, www.nynaturalhealthproject.org.
SB 5938 by
Pam Roach (R) King and Pierce, would amend the state's 1991
health freedom law which has failed to protect two CAM physicians
(Drs. Warner and Bolles) from license revocations. Features of the
reform bill include:
Sec. 1. The legislature is aware than an increasing and
significant number of Washington residents are seeking integrative,
complementary, and alternative therapies in their health care....
Sec. 4: The
Washington state medical quality assurance commission is
established, consisting of thirteen individuals licensed to practice
medicine in the State of Washington under this chapter, at
least two of whom shall be physicians, a significant portion of
whose practices includes integrative, complementary, and alternative
medicine, two individuals who are licensed as physician
assistants under chapter 18.71A.RCW, and four individuals who are
members of the public, at least two of whom are consumers of
integrative, complementary and alternative medicine.....
Sec. 6: This
spells out guidelines for the commission....such as "Prior
to offering advice about integrative, complementary, and alternative
medicine, the physician shall undertake an assessment of the
patient." This assessment shall include but not be limited to
conventional methods of diagnosis and may include nonconventional
methods of diagnosis, and shall be documented in the patient's chart.
Sec. 11 .....the
use of integrative, complementary, and alternative medicine as
defined in RCW 18.71.010 by itself shall not constitute
unprofessional conduct, unless it can be demonstrated that such
method has a safety risk for the patient that is unreasonably
greater than the conventional treatment for the patient's medical
condition. The act of not using, or the absence of the use of, a
conventional treatment alone shall not establish unprofessional
conduct if the osteopathic physician and surgeon has complied with
chapter 18.57.RCW or the physician has complied with chapter 18.71
Senator Pam Roach
P.O. Box 40482 Olympia, WA 98504-0482
Jerri Spalding Fredin
Citizens for Alternative Health Care
Minnesota consumer health freedom legislation
that passed in the spring of 2000 and has since become a model for the
country. See New York,
California, and Georgia write-ups for information on similar
legislation in these states. New
Jersey is also expected to introduce similar legislation within the
If your state is working on legislation to
support patients' rights to have
access to responsible medical alternatives
and it is not listed above, be sure to email our webmaster
so we can add it.