Ballard Naturopathic Blog | All posts tagged 'laws'

Stone Turtle HealthNaturopathic Medicine and Massage Therapy for the Whole Family

6204B 8th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98107 Work (206) 355-4309

Stone Turtle Health Blog

Affordable Care?

November 20, 2013

With the new year fast approaching, the Affordable Care Act is on everyone's minds. The Washington state website and the federal website have both been prone to errors and delays because of the overwhelming amount of traffic, making researching and enrolling in new plans a pain in the neck. It's also difficult to tell if your plan costs are going to be slashed because you are eligible for a premium subsidy, stay the same (as for those with employer coverage) or increase ridiculously (as some older patients are seeing). The first time I logged on, I was told that my demographic (36 year old non-smoking female) had no plans available (we are, after all, quite a rarity!). The second time, I was told that of course there was a plan for me, as a 25 year old male smoker..

With all this confusion. surrounding the ACA and the state benefits exchange, I find it helpful to enlist the aid of my healthcare broker, who previously spent time discussing my options for individual v. group coverage as a business owner as well as comparing and contrasting my plan options. Personally, I work with and highly recommend Kathy Miller of The Miller Connection in Everett. She takes the time to find out your unique situation to provide you with the best tailored advice. In the case of the healthcare exchange, she knows tips and tricks for getting the best possible quote, which takes a more nuanced approach than just filling in the blanks on the website. 

For my patients, I want to reiterate our commitment to providing affordable care. We will continue to offer cash discounts and a cap on our office visit charges for those who are eligible. As our sliding fee scales are only offered to uninsured patients, we hope to phase this out as more Washington state residents become enrolled in insurance plans. We will continue to offer payment plans to all of our patients. Our biggest news is that Stone Turtle Health is in the process of becoming a Medicaid provider with the state of Washington. This means we will be able to provide services to patients on various Medicaid-funded state health plans who were previously not offering naturopathic coverage. 

Families will continue to be able to schedule group appointments to cut down on costs, as well. Please consider bringing in your children in the months of November and December for a free 30-minute consultation to see if naturopathic medicine is a good fit for your family. 

As we move into the new era in medical reimbursement, I look forward to being able to provide care for more families in the community and to showing patients from all walks of life how affordable and sustainable naturopathic medicine really can be! Stone Turtle Health is committed to providing safe, effective, and financially-conscious care for your family!



April 19, 2010

This morning, I was very excited to be a part of The Marty Riemer Show webcast. Marty and Jodi Brothers have been in the radio business for a combined 30+ years and have recently left radio (see my post "Community Economy") and begun broadcasting via the internet a few weeks ago. They were kind enough to offer congratulations to my dad on his birthday and retirement during their first webcast on April Fool's Day.

I'll say this much: as nervous as I was, I didn't throw up or pass out (although it was touch and go for a minute). Marty and Jodi are both incredibly gracious and funny, quick to riff of of one another's comments and to make me feel at home. In the end, I wound up feeling that it was over much too soon.  You can click HERE for access to the webcast or the podcast. I recommend the podcast as it doesn't show how much I was shaking and wringing my hands.

While I was unsure of what the topic of discussion was going to be, I had hoped it would center around the clinic, maybe some of the cool projects I have going on to make sure we get health care to everyone, like our sliding fee scales or our cap on office visit charges, ensuring that no one ever pays more than $75 for a visit. Instead, breaking news over the weekend about a law that allows naturopathic physicians and nurse practitinoer to recommend medical marijuana use alongside medical doctors pre-empted the discussion. Very luckily, I have been doing a lot of research following the passage of this legislation because I was curious about the parameters for recommendations as well as how medical professionals of any kind could recommend an illegal drug without violating federal laws.

What my research (and emails to the state Department of Health) turned up is the following: Providers in the state of Washington can "recommend" but not prescribe medical marijuana for a very limited number of conditions. This recommendation can only come following failed utilization of most other treatments for the condition and had to be written on tamper-proof paper to prevent copying, such as a prescription pad. The law does not state whether or not a provider has to have a DEA number to recommend medical marijuana. Providers are not allowed to supply marijuana to patients. Patients are only allowed to grow (or designate a grower for) a specific number of plants. According to a federal judgement in the 9th Circuit Court, physician "recommendations" fall under First Amendment rights, so providers will not be prosecuted by the federal government. This judgement is currently under appeal. Further, federal law enforcement is currently unwilling to press charges against patients complying with state law and state law enforcement in Washington is required to uphold Washington law. The only challenge lies in patient access.

Dispensaries are illegal in the state of Washington (at the time of this writing) and the sale or purchase of marijuana is a federal crime (although patients are exempt from state prosecution for marijuana purchases), leaving patients with recommendations but no legal way of accessing marijuana. There are some clinics in Washington, such as Sentry Medical/Canna Care, THCF and others that have doctors on-site to review medical records and write recommendations as well as offering growing tips, forums (which explicitly state that no marijuana can be purchased or sold through the site), and may or may not help people connect to designated growers (depending upon the clinic). For this, they will charge $100-$200/patient fee that, in some cases, must be renewed every year.

For more information about the state laws and regulation surrounding medical marijuana in the state of Washington, go to the Department of Health's FAQ page or read the legislation here. Other helpful websites include California's own Safe Access Now