Quackwatch Home Page

National Association of Naturopathic Physicians --
Outline for Study of Services of Practitioners
Performing Health Services in Independent Practice

Part V: Title XVIII (Medicare)

A. RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE CONGRESS FOR CHANGES IN THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT TO BROADEN HEALTH COVERAGE FOR PEOPLE 65 OR OVER, AND PRIORITIES FOR SUCH CHANGES IN SERVICE

It is manifestly and abundantly apparent in America today that allopathy cannot by itself serve all of the nation's ill.

The stated or implied aim of allopathy to seek licensing latitude for creation of "medical technicians" to assist its licensed practitioners and thereby enlarge the scope of their practice in numbers of patients to be served is commendable.

But there are a number of distinct, licensed, and historically-rooted disciplines, among them naturopathic medicine, whose practitioners cannot and should not be subverted to the role of "medical technician."

Their patient load is substantial, albeit in some cases the number of their active practitioners may be actually or seemingly on the decline (due to the decline in student enrollment mentioned before).

Therefore, naturopathy would urge the Congress to allow the terms and conditions of Title XVIII to embrace all licensed healing arts; each of which would treat patients and be indemnified for so doing, only within the scope of its licensed ability to do so; i.e., there is no thought of encroachment upon the allopath's primary domain in naturopathy's attitudes or in this suggestion.

The priority for such inclusion is immediate; the practitioners -- such as naturopaths -- are in practice; they are treating patients; they will continue to do so, and far from atrophying, their self-educational and undergraduate educational programs are being revitalized to provide even more extensive service to the American public.

In sum, Title XVIII should be so amended as to allow complete "freedom of choice" by patients covered under the Act, of practitioner, location, type of treatment, etc. And such practitioners should be compensated on the same basis applicable to allopaths.

Naturopathy will not and does not advocate further philosophical changes in the Act; i.e., the N.A.N.P. does not advocate socialized medicine per se. It does advocate equally inclusive treatment of all health-care practitioners, however, in all present or future Congressionally-enacted programs for federally subsidized or supervised group or individual health care.

B. WHAT IS THE DEMAND FOR THE SERVICES OF NATUROPATHIC PRACTITIONERS BY PERSONS 65 OR OVER?

N.A.N.P. estimates that approximately 9,400,000 patients are being served currently, per year, by America's roughly 4700 licensed and/or/otherwise regulated naturopathic practitioners. Of that number, we estimate that 25% of the patients of naturopathic practitioners in general (vs. specialized) practice are 65 or older. Therefore, if the per-practitioner, per-year, median patient load is 2000, then 25% of each naturopath's patients (500 per year) fall into the 65-or-older age bracket.

C. PROJECTION OF THE FUTURE NEEDS OF, AND DEMANDS FOR, THE SERVICES OF NATUROPATHIC PHYSICIANS BY PERSONS 65 OR OVER -- IN 1975 -- IN 1980

We are told that by 1975 roughly 50% of this nation's population will be 25 or younger. At the other end of the age spectrum, we forecast a significant yearly growth in the percentage of our population over 65. The healing, remedial, and generally life-prolonging product of geriatric and gerontological research and practice is vastly extended individual and collective longevity.

In spite of this increasing annual extension of our population's longevity, the ills of the elderly seem to remain primarily the same . . . mainly chronic, mainly cardio-vascular or respiratory, and generally degenerative. Naturopathy foresees no appreciable change in the type of abnormal conditions it encounters in elderly patients, in spite of their longer lives. The toxicity of their excesses (alcohol, tobacco); the adverse changes in their ecology (air and water pollution) would indicate continuation of their afflictions at about the same level as today by the years 1975 or 1980. (Even the currently radical concepts of organic transplant, surgically, if eventually fully successful, can regenerate only the organ involved, and cannot effect therapy for the remainder of the patient's systems and organs.)

Therefore, naturopathy's needs for more teaching facilities, to produce more practitioners, to care for a growing number of persons who comprise this pro-fession's primary patient source . . . the elderly, must be envisioned, as one of constant increase. Specific numbers, are not practical to recite here. Even arith-metical ratios between the growing number of persons over 65 or to become over 65 and the naturopathic population which is extant or which should exist to serve them would be misleading: because we do not feel that, today, there are even a tenth of the necessary minimum number of naturopaths in practice in the United States. To extend this current equation would be faulty and a mis-leading understatement of potential public need for naturopathy's services.

Index ||| Part I, II, III, IV
Quackwatch Home Page