Students Rally for Medicare Inclusion in Washington, DC

Naturopathic medicine supporters from around the country convened on Capitol Hill in May to help members of Congress learn about the benefits of naturopathic medicine and upcoming legislative bills to support the profession.

This year’s annual DC Federal Legislative Initiative (DC FLI) was focused on gaining support for a pilot Medicare demonstration program to examine the clinical and cost-effectiveness of providing naturopathic health care services to Medicare beneficiaries. Nearly 150 participants from 32 states, plus Canada and Puerto Rico, visited 165 Congressional offices, where they gained support for a draft Dear Colleague letter by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP).

“I came home from the event feeling connected with and a part of this profession in a deeper way than I ever have before” says Ryan Turnewitsch, a Bastyr student in the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) program in Kenmore and newly appointed AANP student representative.

“Overwhelmingly, the response of the lawmakers and their staffs was favorable and supportive to our bill and to our medicine at large,” Turnewitsch says. “While I left the FLI with a more comprehensive appreciation for how challenging it can be to pass a piece of legislation, I also left with the greatest sense of optimism I have ever had for the future of naturopathic medicine.”

Here are what other DC-FLI attendees had to say about the event:

“It is telling that our ‘asks’ are in line with the hotbed issues around cost-effectiveness, related to veterans care and senior care. We’re the ones who are well-poised to meet the demands of what is needed in health care today.”

— Emily Telfair, ND (’05), ninth year attending DC FLI

“This was my sixth time at DC FLI, and each year gets better and better! I love surrounding myself with positive, forward-thinking, PASSIONATE people in the naturopathic profession. It is not only a remarkable way to get to know our natural medicine community and all of our allies, it is also a great way to learn how to advocate for ourselves, our medicine, our profession, and the world! Dr. John Bastyr says it best, "Naturopathic medicine is one part science, one part art, and one part politics," and I am reminded that this is the case every year I attend DC FLI. Thanks for hosting an extraordinary conference!”

— Rosia Parrish, ND (candidate June ’16), sixth year attending DC FLI

“It’s important that students participate in the DC FLI. Students tell our story better than we can tell it ourselves. There is always strength in numbers and their passion is infectious. And for the students, the takeaways from this experience are of tremendous value and will help their career.”

Charles “Mac” Powell, PhD, President, Bastyr University

Find more information about the 2016 DC FLI and proposed legislation from the AANP.