Dear Mr. President, I felt very empowered by the State of the Union last night and felt compelled to write. I am a naturopathic doctor in rural Maine and we naturopathic physicians are imperative in health care reform. We are educated in post-graduate medical institutions as primary care physicians, yet we are not licensed in every state. Even here in Maine, I am not even able to call myself a physician, but only a naturopathic doctor. I am also not able to use my DEA number or prescribe any and all medications as I was in Oregon, which prevents me from truly filling a primary care role for my patients. Similarly, not all insurance companies cover our care, specifically Medicaid and Medicare programs as well as some private insurances. I do the best I can, giving thousands of dollars of free care to my low-income and underinsured patients, but I too struggle with my own finances and overwhelming student loans. Naturopathic physicians need to be included in loan repayment programs for both primary care and rural service. We are here, we are educated and we are happy to take on the task of helping fulfill this nation's lack of primary care physicians. Our roles as physicians are greatly needed as we work with patients to fully understand and prevent illness and treat people naturally whenever possible, thus reducing their need for expensive healthcare and prescriptions. Please take advantage of our talents and give us the recognition we deserve as primary care physicians in every state. Our American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) has been lobbying hard in Washington for years and I hope you will see what we have to offer for all Americans.
Dr Kristen McElveen