Medical freedom still at risk

Warning to alternative-health-care practitioners and their clients: Medical freedom is still at risk!

There’s a widespread misconception afoot that we have “stopped” House Bill 1049 (which, in late June, threatened to make felons out of naturopaths, homeopaths, energy workers and herbalists in North Carolna).

It’s true that this bill died because it wasn’t voted on before the General Assembly’s summer session ended. But this does not mean that the issue is dead! The very fact that it got as far as the General Assembly should be fair warning that natural medicine is still in danger in our state.

Thanks to many, many letters, House Bill 1049 was amended in the House of Representatives, eliminating the felony clause. But it is still a misdemeanor in this state to administer many natural, nontoxic, noninvasive treatments.

For those unfamiliar with recent history, there was a similar attempt to suppress acupuncture and massage therapy in 1992. But a large and tenacious grassroots movement succeeded in getting proactive legislation passed that’s still in force today, benefitting these two disciplines.

Accordingly, a number of people interested in medical freedom have been meeting to try to resurrect the organization that was responsible for that success: Carolinians for Health Care Access, a 301c(4) nonprofit organization.

CHCA advocates individuals’ right to choose their own health-care treatments and practitioners. Our mission is to secure and protect this right through positive, unified action.

Our goals are as follows:

• To research existing models of alternative-health-care access legislation throughout the world, in order to develop a prototype for such legislation in North Carolina.

• To draft proactive legislation that can protect all types of alternative-health-care practitioners and their clients.

• To lobby for such legislation in the N.C. General Assembly.

• To constantly monitor alternative-health-care access legislation at both the state and national levels to preserve freedom of health-care choice for all.

This ambitious effort will need many volunteers to help plan, research, organize and fund-raise. To be effective, we will need to hire a lobbyist and send out regular mailings, requiring a minimum annual budget of $60,000.

Achieving health-care freedom is vital for the health of both state residents and the economy, particularly in Western North Carolina. (Amazingly, even so soon after HB1049 further threatened health-care freedom in this state, active public support for health-care access legislation is dwindling rapidly.)

Make no mistake: The growth of corporate interests, if left unchecked, will choke off all other growth in the health-care field. And alternative-medicine practitioners are seriously deluded if they believe that the fundamental principles they work with do not need to be applied to the “body politic” as well as to the human body.

We therefore challenge all alternative-care stakeholders to apply their practice of proactive prevention to the public affairs of this state, and to lend a helping, healing hand to efforts to protect health-care choice by actively participating in Carolinians for Heath Care Access.

Our next meeting will be held on Friday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. in the meeting room at EarthFare in Westgate Shopping Center. We will hand out the first draft of our proposed legislation and solicit comments and suggestions. Everyone is welcome.

Just four days later, there will be another key meeting (on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. at MAHEC). At that time, we’ll discuss our plans for getting legislation introduced. (We are holding two meetings close together in an attempt to complete as much work as possible before the holidays — and before the legislature goes back into session in January.

[Rebecca Campbell is an alternative-health-care practitioner who lives in Asheville.]

For more information or to join our group, please attend these meetings and/or call Carolinians for Health Care Access (828-258-5862).

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