This Article was originally written for Explore For The professional Magazine in March 2008 and has been updated for this writing
Readers of Explore! For the Professional know that for the last three years the Arizona Homeopathic Medical Profession has been fighting to get its law renewed so that the country’s largest Homeopathic Medical Board, as far as licensees (110), can remain in legal existence. That renewal process, which is now completed, created a new law that renewed the Az Homeopathic Law until 2010. In a sense, it is a blessing that many talented M.D. and D. O. homeopaths will be able to carry on their good work and continue treating their patients ethically and legally.
On the other hand, the price of the renewal of the bill in the State Senate was to allow State Senator Barbara Leff (R-11th district) to add an amendment to the bill that allows unlicensed (and probably licensed as well) practitioners an exemption from regulation that reads as follows:
32-2911 Persons and Acts Not Affected By Chapter
10. The practice of providing treatment of the spiritual vital force in accordance with Hahnemannian principles through the use of remedies that are diluted beyond the concentration of substances in drinking water and prepared in the manner described in the homeopathic pharmacopoeia of the United States.
This law was signed by the Governor in June and is now official. The law extended the Board through the end of 2010 and allows those non M.D.’s and DO’s who believe that they are spiritual healers practicing according to the principles of Samuel Hahnemann M.D. (1755-1842), be exempt from regulation of the Board. In the event of any egregious complaints, the Board will not have any power to act, except to refer any matters to law enforcement authorities.
Senator Leff created this amendment for reasons of creating a “smoother” environment within the Homeopathic professions in Arizona. The last several years has seen much turmoil as the Homeopathic Board has tried to adjudicate multiple complaints from patients of licensed practitioners working with non-licensed practitioners. The Board was met with arguments that Hahnemannian practitioners couldn’t or shouldn’t be regulated because alleged spiritual practice is or should be protected under the first amendment of the US Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion in the United States. A lawsuit was actually filed against the Board in 2003 and several of its Board members at the time (including your author) for ten million dollars based on these claims. The Arizona Attorney General’s office successfully got that case dismissed in 2005 with prejudice seemingly ending the argument, but the argument has again surfaced with the instant circumstance and is now being incorporated into Arizona Statutes as the law of the state.
In Arizona, an M.D. or D.O. has the privilege of becoming licensed by the Board of Homeopathic Medical Examiners which is having its name changed by the current law, changing to the Arizona Board of Homeopathic and Integrated Medical Examiners, by presenting proof that he or she has an unhindered Medical or Osteopathic License somewhere in the 50 United States and can show proof that they have studied Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine and then passing a test created by the Board. The physician can then give up their license in the non-Arizona state, move to Arizona and practice here with their one Arizona License which allows them to practice Classical Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Orthomolecular Medicine, Neuromuscular Integration, Chelation Therapy, Nutrition, Minor Surgery and Pharmaceutical Medicine.
Over the years the Classical Homeopathic community has argued that Classical Homeopathy does not include the seven other modalities listed above, and that to hold oneself out as a Homeopath is misleading to the public. For this reason, the Board’s name is being changed to add the word “Integrated” to the name of the Board. Also of interest, under the new structure those that call themselves Spiritual Hahnemannian practitioners, will not be allowed to legally call themselves Homeopaths.
Several of the more established Homeopathic practitioners are hailing this amendment as a great achievement, as it will bring peace to our small community and allow us to grow our profession by convincing other like-minded M.D.’s and DO’s to learn Integrative Medicine and be licensed in Arizona. With our law extension only good until 2010 (assuming final passage) our profession will again be facing the renewal process in two short years and it will need to attract more physicians who wish to be covered by our “rather good law” that allows true Integrative Medical practice regulated by a Board of true peers.
Other practitioners, who feel that society has established patterns of rules and who believe that societal legal oversight prevents improper healthcare from being foisted upon an unsuspecting public, wonder if Senator Leff and her peers have done the correct thing in the interest of the public with this amendment. Nevertheless, the Legal Homeopathic and Integrative profession is grateful for its extension and looks forward to serving our patients and the challenges ahead.
*The Arizona Homeopathic and Integrative Medical Association is a 25-year-old state association for licensed homeopathic medical physicians in Arizona and in other states.