Minnesota Attacks Naturopathic Medicine

Reprinted from the Present Moment Newsletter - with permission

UPDATE - Medical Board Backs Down in Case of Minnesota Naturopath

Humphrey Attacks Naturopathic Medicine

by Matt Wood, Herbalist and Amrit Devgun, ND

On May 31, 1996, our friend and colleague, Helen Healy, a Naturopathic doctor in practice at Wellspring Clinic, in St. Paul, was served a Summons and Complaint by Attorney General Skip Humphrey, demanding that she close her clinic. A hearing is scheduled for August 21, 1996, in Ramsey County Court. Please Note: Court hearing has been posponed until October 3, 1996.

The Complaint was filed on behalf of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice. It alleges that Helen is practicing medicine without a license, in violation of the medical practice statute (147.081, subd. 3). This states that it is illegal to prevent or to diagnose, correct, or treat in any manner or by any means, methods, devices, or instumentalities, any disease, illness, pain, wound, fracture, infirmity, deformity or defect of any person˛ except by authority of the Board. (So much for mothers wrapping up their children in winter!)

The Complaint applies the statute in as broad a scope as possible. The supporting Memorandum specifically states, although Defendant suggests alternatives to traditional medicine, these alternatives still encompass the practice of medicine. Herbs and homeopathy, vitamins and minerals, dietary changes and exercise are specifically cited as examples of "the practice of medicine." It is noteworthy that the Board has long harassed medical doctors who attempt to include these disciplines within their practice, effectively driving several from the state and threatening public access to these modalities altogether.

No consumer complaints against Helen are cited. The complaint originated with the Board, and the Attorney General sent two paid informants to obtain witness affidavits against her. She referred both to more appropriate practitioners (a dermatologist and a chiropractor), but this is still cited as evidence of diagnosis.

Helen is probably the most credentialed person who could have been attacked. She is a graduate of Bastyr University in Seattle, WA and currently holds a license to practice Naturopathic medicine in Oregon---one of twelve states that maintain Naturopathic Boards. Since she commenced practice in 1984, rather than hiding from the Attorney General and the Board, Helen has maintained contact with them and voluntarily limited the scope of her practice in answer to their concerns!

Make no mistake about it. This is a very dangerous case, carefully designed by the Attorney General and the Board; a bald-faced attack upon alternative, complementary and natural health care. Should Helen be convicted, we will lose a well respected member of the natural health care community; it would undoubtedly be followed by injunctions against many other practitioners. Not only is this an attack on alternative medicine, but an example of big government over-regulation. The state is emphatically asserting that it has the right to make all choices with regard to health care, period. What will it decide to control next?

These actions were not taken to protect the public. The safety of natural health care is well documented and widely popular. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that even five years ago over one third of all Americans were using alternative medicine. Many states are actively developing alternative and natural healing protocols. Unfortunately, Skip Humphrey has chosen to waste large amounts of tax dollars to defend a medical system which is increasingly losing touch with the public.

We must oppose this mindless, counterproductive, retrograde attempt to impose an authentically oppressive political agenda upon the public. Skip Humphrey is fully cognizant of what he is doing. We must stop him. We also have to begin to look towards legislative relief to protect ourselves in the future.

But take heart! Recently, the Board and the Attorney General lost a related case in southwestern Minnesota. A conviction was sought in criminal court against farmer Herb Saunders, of St. James, MN under the same statute. Two juries refused to convict him and charges were dismissed on May 23rd.

What You Can Do To Help

Contact the following, by letter and phone (please send copies to the Freedom Fund for Naturopathic Medicine, see address below) to express your support for freedom of choice in personal healthcare decisions:

Attorney General
Honorable Hubert H. Humphrey III
Attorney General's Office
102 State Capitol
St. Paul, MN 55155
Phone (612) 296-6196
(At the bottom left of this letter, state
cc: Sen Linda Berglin, Rep Lee Greenfield, Rep Bob Anderson, Gov Arne Carlson)

Send copies to:

Sen. Linda Berglin
Chair Senate Health and Human Services Committee
69 State Capitol
St. Paul, MN 55155
Phone (612)296.4261

Rep. Lee Greenfield
Chair House Finance Division of Health
375 State Office Bldg.
St. Paul, MN 55155
Phone (612)296.0173

Rep. Bob Anderson
Chair House Health and Human Services Committee
375 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
Phone (612)296.4946

Gov. Arne Carlson
State Capital
St. Paul, MN 55155

In Minnesota:
Your own state legislators.
To locate your legislators,
call 296.2146.

If you live in Minnesota:
Work with and participate in one of the four committees set up to oppose the injunction against Helen. For further information contact Janet Dahlem at 690-7836 (w) or 825-3552 (h), Simone Vilandre at 476-2211 or Wellspring Clinic at 644-4436.

Attend a Monday Night Information meeting, (every Monday until August 19) 5-6:30 pm at St. Catherinešs College, Mpls. Campus, 601 25th Ave So., Rm 550. (Directions: 94 to Riverside/25th exit. North on 25th to the dead end. Park in the lot on the left. )

Attend Helenšs, court hearing on August 21, 9 a.m., Ramsey County Courthouse. Open to the public.
Please Note: Court hearing has been posponed until October 3, 1996.

To help cover legal expenses, your financial support is needed. Even $5 from many will make a difference. Please make contributions to:

c/o:Wellspring Naturopathic Clinic
1365 Englewood, St. Paul, MN 55104
Phone 644.4436, Fax 646.2358
Herbs, Books & Remedies
.....on the Web

Medical Board Backs Down in Case of Minnesota Naturopath

by Peter Barry Chowka

From: Natural Healthline 11/4/96

As Natural HealthLine reported on August 16, Minnesota naturopathic physician Helen Healy, ND was served a Summons and Complaint by Attorney General Skip Humphrey last May 31, filed on behalf of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, alleging that Healy was practicing medicine without a license in violation of the medical practice statute (147.081, subd. 3), which states that it is illegal to "prevent or to diagnose, correct, or treat in any manner or by any means, methods, devices, or instrumentalities, any disease, illness, pain, wound, fracture, infirmity, deformity or defect of any person" except by authority of the Board. The Complaint demanded that Healy immediately cease practicing natural medicine and close her clinic.

On September 17, the medical board backed down and offered Healy a compromise settlement which allows her to continue practicing as a primary care naturopathic physician. "I'll be doing the same thing as I was doing before," Healy commented after the settlement. The difference is that, for an definite period starting immediately, Healy's patients will be required to sign a document waiving their right to privacy and Healy's medical records will be reviewed periodically by a committee appointed by the board.

Healy's case and the settlement, which received extensive and, according to Healy, "fair" coverage in the local media, have major ramifications for the six other NDs working in Minnesota. It also "helps the cause of licensing naturopathic doctors in the state," Healy said. (Currently, eleven other states license naturopathic medicine -- three more than licensed this primary natural health care option one year ago.)

Healy remains mystified about the reasons for the state's actions, which, she estimates, cost her over $8,000 in legal fees to defend. Interestingly, as is often the case with actions undertaken against credible practitioners of complementary alternative medicine, none of Healy's patients ever filed complaints against the physician. Instead, the Minnesota attorney general used his own paid informants to infiltrate the naturopath's clinic and secure evidence to support the medical board's complaint. Ironically, in both instances, Healy reportedly referred the undercover "patients" to more appropriate practitioners (a chiropractor and a dermatologist).

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) of Seattle, WA, which represents licensed NDs throughout the United States, officially went on record supporting Healy last summer. According to Sheila Quinn, AANP executive director, "Dr. Healy is a well-trained successful naturopathic physician, whose practice has brought health and healing to many hundreds of Minnesota citizens over the years. Her training came from a four-year accredited naturopathic medical school and she passed a licensing exam in a state (Oregon) where naturopathic medicine is licensed and where NDs practice freely as primary care providers." Quinn added, "In a year when three new states passed laws enabling the practice of licensed naturopathic medicine, it seems particularly ironic and tragic that an outstanding practitioner in a state which has not yet responsibly addressed the issue of freedom of choice in health care for its citizens should be facing this kind of attack."

Recently, the AANP expressed satisfaction at the disposition of Healy's case and joined with the newly formed Minnesota Association of Naturopathic Physicians in reaffirming support for licensing naturopathic medicine in Minnesota in 1997.

For further information, contact

Freedom Fund for Naturopathic Medicine

The Alliance for Naturopathic Medicine OnLine Licensing Workbook


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Page maintained by Jan Rosenstreich, Copyright(c) 1996. Created: 7/29/96 Updated: 5/8/97