Washington State Introduces New Health Freedom Bill - HB 2355...  

A Guest Editorial by Monty Kline PhD

January 17th, 2004

A new bill has been introduced into the Washington State House of Representatives – January 2004.  It's called the Access to Complementary/Alternative Health Care Act, a “Practitioner Freedom/Consumer Protection” measure.

Background 

Numerous studies demonstrate that millions of Americans of all demographic groups receive a substantial part of their health care services from complementary and alternative health care practitioners.  The Eisenberg Study (JAMA 1998;280:1569-1575) found that over 50% of the people in the Western United States use some form of complementary or alternative health care.  At this time many complementary/alternative approaches are being proven safe and effective, while even the Journal of the American Medical Association is reporting that conventional medical and drug approaches are the third leading cause of death in America (JAMA 2000;284:483-485).

Despite this widespread usage and popularity, many complementary/alternative health practitioners may be in technical violation of the Uniform Disciplinary Act and subject to penalties and prosecution even though there is no demonstration their practices pose any harm to the public and therefore should not be restricted. The State is currently prosecuting alternative practitioners in the absence of any consumer complaints solely based on such technical violations.

This Act will allow Washington residents freedom of access to complementary and alternative practitioners providing services that do not require medical training and credentials.  It gives consumers freedom of choice in their health care, expanding their options.  The Act also provides for consumer protection by requiring full disclosure by the complementary/alternative practitioner that they are not a licensed physician, the basis of the practice and their education and training.

This Act has no financial cost to the State, though it represents a considerable financial savings over any attempt to create dozens of additional licensure statutes and boards to govern every complementary and alternative health practice, as well as preventing expensive prosecutions of effective practitioners who are not harming the public.  Because none of these practices represent any danger to the public, the State has no compelling interest in regulation beyond requiring the full disclosure provided for in the Act.

What the Act Does

1.      Adds the phase, “Except as provided in section 3 of this act” to the beginning of RCW 18.130.190(1).

2.      Adds a Section 3 to RCW 18.130 exempting licensure requirement from practitioners who are not:

a.       Conducting surgery or any skin penetration

b.      Administering X-rays

c.       Prescribing or recommending discontinuance of legend drugs

d.      Diagnosing or treating conditions that pose a risk of harm, illness or death

e.       Setting fractures

f.        Treating lacerations through electrotherapy

g.       Falsely stating or implying licensure to practice a health care profession

 

3.      Requires the practitioners to disclose:

a.       That he or she is not a licensed physician

b.      That the service is alternative or complementary to licensed health care services

c.       That the service does not require a license by the State

d.      The nature of the services to be provided

e.       The basis for the services

f.        The practitioner’s education, training, experience or other qualifications

 

4.    The Act in no way affects the scope of practice of licensed physicians.

5.      The Act does not limit the right of the client to seek relief for negligence or any other civil remedy against the complementary/alternative practitioner. 

Why is this Act Important? 

1.      Freedom to Practice – Currently anyone practicing an unlicensed healing arts in Washington may be found in technical violation of licensure statutes.  With the passage of this Act, such practitioners can offer their services freely without fear of being charged with a felony crime. Complementary/alternative practitioners will be able to come out of hiding.

2.  Freedom of Access – In removing the illegal onus from unlicensed practitioners, this Act will result in increasing the health care options for consumers, as these services are more openly practiced and advertised.

3.  Consumer Protection – In defining what acts unlicensed practitioners may not perform and requiring full disclosure of their practice to clients, the Act adds significant protection to the public.

4.  “Mainstreaming” Effects -- Legalizing complementary and alternative health care practices means that they will be able to freely contribute to the current dialog between government, academia and other health care providers. Unlicensed practices will be more likely to develop professional associations and training programs that result in a higher quality of service.  As complementary and alternative practices become more visible and professional, it is more likely that research money will become available to further validate the efficacy of particular approaches.  Licensed health care providers are more likely to become aware of, communicate with, and refer to unlicensed practitioners offering effective complementary/alternative services.

5.  Financial Savings to State Government – This Act provides a no-cost solution to the State for appropriately regulating complementary/alternative health care practices not covered by existing licensure statutes.  To create licensure statutes and boards would impose a significant financial burden on government while providing no real benefit to the public, given the inconsequential risk posed by such practices.

You can read the text of the act by clicking here.

 

Monte Kline, Ph.D.

Pacific Health Center, Bellevue and Spokane, Washington

 

This "Millions of Health Freedom Fighters - Newsletter" is about the battle between "Health and Medicine" on Planet Earth. Tim Bolen is an op/ed writer with extensive knowledge of the activities of a subversive organization calling itself the "quackbusters," and that organization's attempts to suppress, and discredit, any, and all health modalities that compete with the allopathic (MD) paradigm for consumer health dollars. The focus of the newsletter is on the ongoing activities, battles, politics, and the victories won by members of the "Health Freedom Movement" against the "quackbusters" It details "who the quackbusters are, what they are, where they are operating, when they appear, and how they operate - and how easy it is to beat them..."

For background information on the "Battle between Health and Medicine" go to: http://www.savedrclark.net/by_whom2.htm. A copy of THIS newsletter, and older ones, are viewable at the website http://www.quackpotwatch.org/default.htm.

For EVEN MORE interesting and related articles go to http://www.bolenreport.com.