Advocates of health freedom are fighting a battle in many states across the US to ensure that holistic health care providers can continue to practice. This will provide people with an alternative to drugs, surgery and radiation which mainstream medicine wants you to see as your only option. One such battle is currently taking place in Wisconsin where activists are working to generate public and legislative attention to a grassroots bill, the Consumer Choice and Wellness Act. The clock is ticking on this issue — the bill must pass by April 2012 or it dies.
Consumer health rights at risk
Alternative health practitioners in Wisconsin now offer their services in a precarious situation, relying on the goodwill of local authorities rather than enjoying fully legal status. By offering any type of healing services, these healers run the risk of prosecution for practicing medicine without a license. In some areas of the state, consumers cannot find alternative health practitioners because the hostile stance of local law enforcement forces these healers to operate under the radar.
Proposed new bill will protect alternative health
The proposed Consumer Choice and Wellness Act will create a framework for the peaceful co-existence of modern medicine and natural alternative modalities. Practitioners such as herbalists, nutritional counselors, body workers, homeopaths, native healers and those who offer other wellness solutions will be able to operate in the open without fear that lack of awareness on the part of local law enforcement will put them on trial.
While protecting consumer freedom to choose alternative health care, the new bill still provides for some limits. It defines “prohibited acts” which require a license such as prescribing pharmaceuticals. The bill also mandates disclosures on the part of healers in order to protect against unsafe practices. The bill was drafted by Diane Miller, a Minnesota attorney, the Legal and Public Policy Director of the National Health Freedom Coalition (NHFC) and its sister organization, the National Health Freedom Action (NHFA). The bill has been introduced in the Senate Health Committee, sponsored by Senators Molton, Lasee, Gallaway and Grothman, with co-sponsorship from Representatives Ripp, Williams, Van Roy and Rivard.
The Wisconsin Consumer Choice and Wellness Act is modeled after similar legislation which has successfully passed in other states such as Minnesota, California, Rhode Island, New Mexico and Louisiana. Other countries, including Canada, already have in place laws which, like the proposed WI bill, limit some specific actions only to physicians and nurses, yet still permit for the practice of alternative healing.
Mainstream nutrition, brought to you by Coca Cola
Part of the urgency for the Wisconsin bill stems from the fact that efforts have been made to limit the freedom of health care practitioners in that state. Another proposed piece of legislation, the Dieticians Licensing Bill, seeks to outlaw alternative therapies, limiting nutritional counseling only to Licensed Registered Dietitians. The American Dietetic Association seeks to establish sole claim to the field of nutrition, ignoring the expertise of those who have studied nutrition outside of an allied health profession university program. The American Dietetic Association has corporate sponsors such as the Coca Cola Company, Pepsi and Mars Candy — giving it a larger war chest to fight alternative health care, but also making its definition of nutrition somewhat questionable.
What you can do
Steve Lankford, President of Wisconsin for Choice in Wellness, points out that support is needed from Wisconsin residents to help pass the Consumer Choice and Wellness Act. “The most important thing a Wisconsin citizen can do is contact their state senator and tell them that they support Wis. Senate Bill SB-280.” Those who live in other states can help by forwarding a link to this article to friends or relatives in Wisconsin, alerting them to the need to protect their right to choose health care beyond the narrow confines of what the American Dietetic Association, and other mainstream health care organizations deem acceptable.