by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
Late Sunday night I received an email that announced an Oregon Legislation Policy that impacts your Healthcare Freedom of Choice. Am I an alarmist? When it comes to restrictive dietary wording laws in any state, I would have to counter with no. Over the last five years, we have seen health freedom eroded in numerous states for special interest. When we examine these dietary restriction laws, we can clearly see they are not driven by public safety but, economic and censorship agendas.
Your rights as an individual are on the chopping block in Salem. When you share information with a friend or family member on a wide scope of topics from brushing your teeth, eating vegetables, reading a scripture passage to lift the spirit, traditional values, or going for a walk in nature – you could be in violation of the proposed restrictive language in Oregon House Bill 2303.
This language in question is about Wellness and Life Coaching… Something most of us do on a daily basis. Inserting restrictive trade language into bills does nothing to promote or protect consumer health, it raises profound First Amendment concerns regarding the right of individuals to speak on common topics such as food, personal care, hygiene, and exercise.
Adults should have the freedom to pursue an honest living in the occupation of their choice, including the provision of wellness/dietary advice. State legislators should be skeptical about granting any group a monopoly on the provision of such advice, whether it is rendered for free or for pay, to groups or individuals.
Many people such as myself who work in healthcare have invested years in education, training and clinical time in the fields of Wellness Coaching, Health Coaching, Holistic Nutrition, Life Coaching or dozens of other titles. We are professionals as are Holistic Nurses and uphold strict ethics and conduct standards. These “coaches” are effective in helping individuals learn how to manage their health in partnership with mainstream healthcare providers. There is plenty of work for all, and the availability of “Wellness Coaches “ frees up valuable time for prescribing providers, knowing education and support is available to their patients.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO A-ENGROSSED HOUSE BILL 2303, (Oregon) Requested by Senator STEINER HAYWARD is just such a violation and should be removed from consideration. Additionally, this bill’s language specifically addresses Native American “Tribal” Peoples, this should also be of concern to many.
The area of greatest concern is section 14 – especially ‘Alternative behavioral health practitioner’ includes a: Hypnotherapist, Life Coach; Parenting Coach; or Wellness Coach. A further section reads: Allow the board to prioritize the investigation with respect to other investigations related to the practice of direct entry Midwifery.
In a recent article titled “Boards Behaving Badly” from the Institute for Justice:
“ This bad behavior has been going on for decades. Licensing boards, composed of members of the very occupations they are supposed to regulate, have been adopting anticompetitive restrictions that harm consumers, stifle innovation, and yield no real public benefits. And when these restrictions inevitably are challenged in court, states have been left footing the bill to defend the boards”.
“Superficial reforms will leave states open to considerable legal uncertainty, as the Supreme Court has not clearly defined the level of “active supervision” that will suffice to confer immunity from federal antitrust law. States, instead, should seek to restrict the kind of underlying anticompetitive conduct that gets boards into trouble in the first place”.
So we all know who pays the financial cost of policy and laws passed by states, it is the taxpayer. However, that is not the only monetary cost to a state like Oregon struggling with an enormous deficit.
Licensing laws result in the loss of 2.85 million jobs nationwide, and the cost to consumers from licensing laws has been estimated to be as high as $203 billion every year.
Licensing laws should only be retained when the ombudsman— not trade association advocates—shows that the cost of those laws to economic competition is outweighed by a true and present threat to public safety.
The economic impact to Oregon may seem insignificant at this stage. However, history has shown when states begin adopting restrictive language in policy; it opens the door to further trade restrictions. Why does this language have to be in House Bill 2303? Is there a raging problem with Life Coaches, Wellness Coaches, Midwives, or anyone else for that matter endangering life by offering advice on countless common topics?
Consider: “While some occupations are licensed in all (or nearly all) states, many others are licensed only
in a handful—with no apparent ill effects. A study of 102 low- and middle-income occupations subject to licensing requirements found that only 15 were licensed in 40 states or more. On average, the 102 occupations studied were licensed in just 22 states. Where even one state does not regulate an occupation, other states should seriously consider whether licensing that occupation is truly necessary”.
Psychiatric Technicians are licensed in 4 states, Dietetic Technicians in 3, Psychiatric Aids in 2. In comparison to Midwives who are already governed by state nursing boards in 28 states and Massage Therapists in 39.
Oregon is the home of several excellent Natural Health and Nutrition schools, all of these programs contain information on wellness or life coaching, to implement restrictive language listing these trades is a devastating blow to a growing number of Science and Traditional Healthcare based education bodies and their students, alumni and faculty. Can we as a state afford to lose even more independent businesses? Are you willing to give away one more freedom?
Please ask represenitives to remove restrictive language regarding Health – Wellness Life Coaches and Midwives from HB 2302.
To Your Good Health and Freedom to Practice Healthcare of Your Choice.
HB 2303-A3 (LC 507) 5/16/17 (LHF/ps)
Boards Behaving Badly by the Institute for Justice