Sunday, February 19, 2006

Is it aromatherapy if a bill stinks?

Last week at the Iowa Statehouse, the leftover flower children turned alternative health care specialists showed up to adjust the psychic energy in the place. Umm, it didn’t work. But they really had another thing on their astral plain. As reported in the Fairfield Ledger last week.
…A bill being considered in the Iowa Legislature could have far-reaching implications for homeopaths, ayurvedic practitioners and other alternative health care providers in Fairfield and across the state.
The Consumer Health Freedom Act would exempt people who practice various forms of alternative medicine from needing to be licensed by the state. At the same time, it would require those providers to give patients a written notice disclosing their unlicensed status and detailing the practitioner's training and the nature of the services to be provided.

Under current Iowa law, some alternative health care providers run the risk of prosecution for practicing medicine without a license. However, physicians, chiropractors and other licensed providers are allowed to practice alternative forms of medicine as long as they do not infringe on the area of another licensed group.

Supporters of the bill say it would expand the range of health care options available to consumers. Opponents say it would jeopardize consumer safety by allowing anyone to practice alternative medicine regardless of their level of training.

"There are numerous alternative medicine approaches that Iowans and Americans have been using for years," said state Sen. Jack Hatch, the Des Moines Democrat who introduced the bill in the Senate. …

… Unlicensed practitioners would have to disclose the fact that they do not have a state license, both directly to their patients and in any advertising. Patients also would receive a written statement including the provider's credentials, the nature of the treatment to be provided, and a reminder that they are free to seek care from a licensed provider as well.

The Iowa Health Freedom Coalition is channeling positive vibes to help Iowa State Senator, and ubiquitous liberal, Jack Hatch pass SF 2095. Not a bad deal if you’re looking at ten or twenty more years in one of Iowa’s many growth industries – ag processing, telemarketing, early childhood education or senior care services. If they pass this thing, it’ll open up all sorts of post secondary opportunities. You’ll be able to spend a couple of months learning all about delivering babies and set up shop. You think I’m kidding.

The brilliance of blogging; a blogger posting in support of SF2095 and lay midwives.

... Remember that M.O.M. meeting I went to back in December? Well, at that meeting, Senator Jack Hatch mentioned wanting to sponsor legislation to "legalize" alternative health care in Iowa. Apparently, he did it! The bill has been co-sponsored by Hatch (self-described "liberal democrat") and Senator Nancy Boettger (republican).

Tuesday, Larry Hanus of the Iowa Health Freedom Coalition and a couple of others were on Jan Mickelson's show on WHO Radio promoting SF 2095, the "Iowa Health Freedom Act". I didn't actually hear the program at the time, but I'm in the process of downloading the Podcast right now. You can download the podcast on the WHO Radio website; scroll down to Tuesday.

I've only skimmed the legislation so far, but it looks to me like this might provide a legitimate "in" for Direct Entry Midwives!

What makes all this interesting (my God, you’ve gotten this far, I have to assume you have no life or have some sort of compulsive reading disorder) anyway, is the yearly roll out of legislation to cap medical malpractice rates (SF 2218 ).

You might wonder how medical malpractice and alternative health care therapies are related; it’s called the hospital emergency room. It is inevitable that when alternative therapies go bad, empirically based forms of health care are sought out. Ask anyone working in a major Iowa metro ER if they have ever seen a patient arriving for medical care post treatment in a nontraditional health care setting (like a room at the Holiday-Motel 6-Inn) and you’ll get a good smirk.

So what? It’s their fault for risking their lives with less than quality health care. However, this “less than” health care puts traditional licensed providers at personal and professional risk. The hippy-chick lay midwife just doing her thing doesn’t have the kind of pockets that trial lawyers are interested in, but those doctors cleaning up the bad outcomes do have deep pockets in the form of very expensive medical malpractice insurance. Of course, a bill with med-mal caps is D.O.A. in the current Iowa Senate as it’s anathema to Iowa trial lawyers and their pals in the Democratic Party.

I don’t have a real problem with people “practicing” alternative forms of health care. What I do have a problem with is making it legal; and, consequently, creating infinitely more professional risk for the optimistic chumps -- I use this term with much affection -- still practicing empirically based forms of health care in Iowa.

When guys like Democratic Senator Jack Hatch push for “health freedom” but don’t support medical malpractice caps, they’re really saying, “I don’t care about the overall quality of Iowa’s health care system, just need a few fast & cheap political points”.


Comments:
For your information the only person I would ever allow to deliver my children is a direct entry midwife regardless of the legal ramifications in this state. As a matter of fact, my midwife has a flourishing business as do others in this state. As someone who lobbied for this bill, I only want for all people to have the opportunity to make their own, informed health care choices.

Perhaps you should be more aware of what is actually occuring in the rest of the country. Iowa's laws restricting naturopathy and other alternative health care practices have afforded us the label "backwater hillbilly state" amongst people in other states where midwifery and other naturopathic practices are not only legal but covered by insurance as well. This is one of the many reasons that younger families are flocking from this state to more enlightened areas. That is certainly what my family and I plan to do.
 
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