Thursday, October 10, 2013

Senator Mikulski sponsors medical quackery week

By Mathew Goldstein

As if we do not have enough problems due to a refusal of most Republicans to accept and follow the overall direction of the available empirical evidences when setting national policies, particularly in the House of Representatives, one of the senior Maryland Senate Democrats, Barbara Mikulski, decided to introduce a resolution designating the week of October 7 through October 13, 2013, as “Naturopathic Medicine Week” that applauds "the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care."  Naturopaths claim to be holistic, which apparently means they believe that the natural body is joined to a supernatural soul and a non-physical mind and the three must be treated as a unit.  Naturopaths offer treatment at their offices and at spas where patients may reside for several weeks. Their offerings include fasting, "natural food" diets, vitamins, herbs, tissue minerals, homeopathic "remedies", cell salts, manipulation, massage, exercise, colonic enemasacupunctureChinese medicine, natural childbirth, minor surgery, and applications of water, heat, cold, air, sunlight, and electricity.  Many of these methods are said to "detoxify" the body.

This encomium for medical quackery was passed by the Senate with unanimous consent on September 9.  Eleanor Norton sponsored a similar resolution in the House, but that resolution was not voted.  Seventeen U.S. states, and the District of Columbia (but not Maryland), allow people who are trained at an accredited school of naturopathic medicine in North America to use the designation ND or NMD, some states even license such people to write prescriptions for drugs.  If this resolution is typical of popular, bipartisan, middle of the road, moderation, then don't look for me there.  Here is Senator Mikulski's resolution:

Designating the week of October 7 through October 13, 2013, as ‘Naturopathic Medicine Week’ to recognize the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care.
Whereas, in the United States, 75 percent of all health care spending is for the treatment of preventable chronic illnesses, including high blood pressure, which affects 68,000,000 people in the United States, and diabetes, which affects 26,000,000 people in the United States;
Whereas nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese and, consequently, at risk for serious health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and depression;
Whereas 70 percent of people in the United States experience physical or nonphysical symptoms of stress, which can contribute to chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes;
Whereas the aforementioned health conditions are among the most preventable health conditions and are especially responsive to the preventive, whole-person approach favored by naturopathic medicine;
Whereas naturopathic medicine provides noninvasive, holistic treatments that support the inherent self-healing capacity of the human body and encourage self-responsibility in health care;
Whereas naturopathic medicine reduces health care costs because of its focus on patient-centered care, the prevention of chronic illnesses, and early intervention in the treatment of chronic illnesses;
Whereas naturopathic physicians attend 4-year, graduate level programs with rigorous admission requirements at institutions that are recognized by the Department of Education;
Whereas naturopathic physicians are especially skilled in treating chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, asthma, autoimmune disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders, because of their focus on whole-body medicine rather than symptom management;
Whereas naturopathic physicians are trained to serve as primary care physicians and can help redress the shortage of primary care providers in the United States;
Whereas naturopathic physicians are trained to refer patients to conventional physicians and specialists when necessary;
Whereas patients of naturopathic physicians report higher patient satisfaction and health improvement than patients of conventional medicine;
Whereas the profession of naturopathic medicine is dedicated to providing health care to underserved populations;
Whereas naturopathic medicine provides consumers in the United States with more choice in health care, in line with the increased use of a variety of integrative medical treatments; and
Whereas the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148; 124 Stat. 119) requires that insurers include and reimburse licensed health care providers, including naturopathic physicians, in health insurance plans: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate–
(1) designates the week of October 7 through October 13, 2013, as ‘Naturopathic Medicine Week’;
(2) recognizes the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care; and
(3) encourages the people of the United States to learn about naturopathic medicine and the role that naturopathic physicians play in preventing chronic and debilitating illnesses and conditions.

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