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Against the AMA Attack on Scope Expansions: Update from Coalition for Patients Rights' Karen Howard PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Taking on the AMA Campaign to Limit Scope: Interview with Incoming Coalition for Patients Rights Co-Chair Karen Howard, AANP Executive

Summary: When the American Medical Association (AMA) announced in 2006 that it was going to challenge scope of practice expansions of virtually all other professions, an amalgam of 35 organizations called the Coalition for Patient Rights (CPR) quickly sprung up to defend against what the AMA called its Scope of Practice Partnership. Four of the aligned organizations were from integrative practice fields. Among the 4 trained spokespersons for the CPR, and slated to become co-chair later this month, is Karen Howard, the executive director of CPR member American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. The Integrator caught up with Howard recently to learn more about the AMA campaign, and CPR's responses. Here is a brief interview.
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for inclusion in a future Integrator forum.

Other Integrator resources on the AMA SOPP and CPR:
for articles from 2006) on go to this link and scroll down;
for 30 AMA SOPP campaigns in 2009 against DCs, NDs, LAcs
and licensed midwives, go to this link.

Image
Ramped up for a multiyear campaign
Question: What boasts in its membership 49 state medical associations, 17 state osteopathic associations, 2 national medical associations and 14 national medical societies?
 

Answer: The American Medical Association's Scope of Practice Partnership, founded to stop scope expansions of other professions.*

Question: What boasts in its membership 24 nursing associations, 5 associations from allied health professions, 4 complementary and alternative medicine professions and organizations and 2 educator organizations?

Answer
: The Coalition for Patients Rights, established to defend the rights of the professions against the AMA's campaign.*

(*) Notably, both organizations present their work as protecting patients, the
former against (purported) risk from non-MDs/DOs; the later from restricted choice and access. 
 


Image
Assembling the funds to counteract the AMA
In early Integrator reporting on the AMA SOPP, I congratulated the AMA for creating the mother of all coalitions that could potentially oppose organized medicine. The CPR reaches across the nominally "allied health" fields of nursing, psychology, optometry, physical therapy and audiology into the various nominally "non-allied" complementary and alternative healthcare professions of chiropractic, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, naturopathic medicine and, through CPR member Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium, massage therapy and certified professional midwifery.

Last issue, the
Integrator included this article listing the 30 state scope expansion campaigns of DCs, NDs, LAcs and homebirth midwives targeted by the AMA in 2009. So what has the CPR been up to? I spoke with Karen Howard, one of 4 trained CPR spokespeople who will soon become the organization's co-chair. Howard is executive director of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) a dues-paying CPR member. Her members have been a target of 15 AMA SOPP campaigns in 2009.
___________________________

Integrator
: I gather that the list of 35 CPR member organizations includes some who are not dues paying, but that the AANP has chosen to join. How much is that?

Howard:  $5000 per year.

Image
Karen Howard, CPR incoming co-chair and AANP exec
Integrator: The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium (IHPC) and the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) are also listed as members on their site. Which of them has stepped up and is paying dues?

Howard:  The chiropractors aren't giving dollars so aren't in the executive process. The
chiropractors have had their hands full with their health reform agenda. AAAOM is on the planning calls and involved. The first membership was actually donating to a PR campaign. Now we have a process for becoming a member. There is another chiropractic organization looking into it.
 
Integrator: Why is the AANP investing in membership in this organization?

Howard:  In light of the primary care shortage, there is reason for us to work together to define how we respond. Our focus is on giving patients choice in who they choose as primary care.
The power in numbers is substantial - we have over 4 million members in CPR member organizations. Getting to know each other can be useful in individual states. For instance, I spoke last night on behalf of CPR to an organization of state associations of physical therapists. We have lines opened to physical therapists now that we didn't have before.

Integrator:  So does CPR have various committees working on things?

Howard:  CPR was formed defensively. Our first significant effort has been in the area of public relations. We contracted with a firm this year and are now three-fourths of the way toward raising the $100,000 for a contract with the same firm going forward. The firm is developing materials which will assist our state organizations, including a media kit. They've trained 4 spokespeople.

Integrator:  I learned while covering the national meeting of the AANP last month that you were one of them. How did that come to be?

Howard:  CPR decided to train one person each from its 4 groups - advanced practice nurses, therapist groups [such as optometrists and psychologists], alternative medicine and a miscellaneous category. I am the alternative medicine person. Later this month I'll become co-chair of the organization.

Integrator
: Congratulations. I am sure that will be useful visibility for your profession. What else has the Coalition done?

Howard:  We've written a couple of letters as a group, the most recent a letter to President Obama, presenting the value we can have in a reformed health system. Interestingly, while our focus is on supporting our organizations in state scope of practice campaigns, the letters have both been federal in focus. We've also had a lot of conversations on what's to be promoted through our PR effort.

Integrator: Other than the PR campaign picking up, what's on the horizon?

Howard: We have learned that the AMA is developing profiles of each of our professions that they have begun sharing in Congress. I've seen one that was leaked to us. The first 8 pages were a horrific diatribe. These will start to be published and we'll be responding.

Integrator: Congratulations are in order that state associations of naturopathic doctors in Hawaii and Oregon were victorious last year in scope expansions, mainly on pharmacy rights, which hte AMA has targeted.

Howard: These were the first victories in our Coalition.

Integrator: Well, keep me abreast of what comes up. Integrator readers are interested.

___________________________


Comment: Congratulations to the CPR for getting organized and now pulling together significant funds to counter the AMA's campaign. It must be interesting and new for many of the leaders of CPR's allied health field members to have an individual, Howard, from a complementary and alternative healthcare organization, AANP, as a co-chair. From the AANP's and the AAAOM'S perspectives in particular, since the ACA is already part of various coalitions with allied health fields, membership is a particularly smart and strategic move.


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