A healthy nation, with empowered people, making informed health care decisions.
To promote access to all health care information, services, treatments and products that the people deem beneficial for their own health and survival; to promote an understanding of the laws and factors impacting the right to access; and to promote the health of the people of this nation.
How would you feel if you decided to use homeopathy, naturopathy, or bodywork for a physical condition, but found out that you could not get the treatment or information you need, from the practitioner you wanted to see?
The truth is, you are not alone.
Restrictive health practice laws in America, reflecting only the conventional medical approach to health care, prohibit a multitude of healing practices. Yes, your right to access a variety of healing therapies, ranging from naturopathy and homeopathy, to massage therapy, to therapeutic touch, are severely limited, and we need a strong national coalition to stand up and reclaim our right to access all of health care. That’s where NHFC comes in.
National Health Freedom Coalition (NHFC) believes that individuals have the right to self-determination in making their own health care choices. However when health care options are eliminated through restrictive laws and regulations, choices are eliminated and access becomes meaningless. When this happens the people suffer and must work to protect their rights and retain their options.
NHFC is calling together all individuals and groups interested in preserving their freedom of access to complete health care. The purpose of this call is to build a strong national coalition with a united voice, and send a clear message of health freedom. A more acceptable balance must be created between individual rights to self-determination and free choice, and the government’s concerns for public safety.
The goal of NHFC is to create a national environment in which laws and public policy are no longer based on unfair discrimination against particular practitioners or treatments, or on the demands of special interest groups or institutions, but rather are based on true issues of the healing relationship, i.e., an informed environment, ethical conduct of practitioners, reasonable standards of actual harm, and available avenues for client complaints. Public policy and laws will need to change to reflect health freedom values.
NHFC believes that education is a key ingredient in the process of changing laws and public policy. By utilizing NHFC resources, health freedom advocates will become prepared to effectively promote health freedom.
NHFC will serve and educate the public by being the national hub of health freedom information and resources. A skilled professional legal and public policy staff will be available for consultation and technical presentations, conferences, and creative problem solving. Newsletters, press releases, research and reporting will be available on website and public formats.
It is NHFC’s plan to create a health freedom presence in our country that will continually promote access to all health care freedoms and options. By doing this NHFC will guard and protect more fully our right to self-determination and autonomy to make our own health care decisions.
Each and every one of us counts on the fact that we can make our own unique health care choices to keep ourselves healthy and happy. As Americans, we believe these freedoms are intrinsic. In fact, we demonstrated our independent thinking and freedom in a recent study reporting that over 42% of Americans use some form of complementary and alternative health care. (Dr. David Eisenberg, M.D., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and Harvard Medical School, study supported in part by the National Institutes of Health, 1997)
Yet surprisingly, our choices in health care are continually being decreased and eliminated by overly restrictive laws that prohibit certain types of health care practitioners and restrict the use of certain health care products and devices from public use. These restrictive laws apply even when there is no showing of harm to the public, and when statements made by practitioners and manufacturers are truthful. For example:
- In most states, a practitioner such as a homeopath, herbalist, naturopath, or other unlicensed health practitioner, is legally vulnerable to criminal charges for practicing medicine without a license. This is because medical licensure laws define the “practice of medicine” broadly and make it a criminal offense for non-Physicians to practice within the definition of medicine without a medical license. For instance, in California the unlawful practice of medicine is defined as: “Any person who practices or attempts to practice, or who advertises or holds himself or herself out as practicing, any system or mode of treating the sick or afflicted in this state, or who diagnoses, treats, operates for, or prescribes for any ailment, blemish, deformity, disease, disfigurement, disorder, injury, or other physical or mental condition of any person…”. CA Stat. Sec. 2052. This definition makes it almost impossible for many unlicensed practitioners to practice without criminal vulnerability.
Our constitution provides us with precious rights of privacy and liberty to preserve our individual rights to self-determination and choice. But these rights are in danger of becoming meaningless because restrictive laws and regulations eliminate the very options that we desire to choose when exercising our rights.
In order to restore maximum options in health care, laws and public policy need to change. Health care laws and public policy must reflect our right to use whatever resources and healing services we deem beneficial for our own health care and survival.
It is a major challenge to change health care law and public policy, in the midst of today’s health care climate, with so many special interest groups and economic forces. It requires knowledgeable and skilled citizens and dedicated health freedom advocates. The first and foremost task is to educate the leaders, who then in turn can educate the public about the issues. NHFC is keenly aware of this need for education and will help by providing a national information resource center for health freedom.
NHFC believes our country needs a strong professional health freedom team to help in creating a strong unified voice, a clear message, a central locus and hub of information, so the voice of health freedom is heard.
With this in mind, NHFC has begun a fundraising effort to support the development of a national office and a professional legal and public policy team to go forward.
- Interactive Web site
- Model legislation
- Conferences and teleconferences
- Public speaking
- NHFC special publications and materials
- Consulting, technical presentations
- Library of products, information, and resources
NHFC will serve as the national education and information resource center for health freedom in order to address the needs of citizens and grassroots advocates and leaders who find themselves in the position of needing to craft health freedom solutions. NHFC’s goal is to provide the public with as many resources and services as possible to promote health freedom. Maximum visibility and ease of contact with the public will be a priority.
Information technology has given the public a new and powerful tool, the Internet, to advance their knowledge and interests. NHFC will stay abreast of technology and utilize it to fulfill its mission of service to the public. An interactive Web site will allow the public to access the most updated information on health freedom; provide state, national and international information and research; and supply links to other health freedom resources.
Program staff, through their own research, will develop publications for the public on key issues impacting health freedom. National models of legislative language will be developed and made public when necessary. NHFC staff, experienced in coping with complex legal and public policy issues on health care, will be available for public speaking, conferences, consulting and guidance. NHFC itself will sponsor important conferences on health freedom topics each year. Opportunity for membership and membership benefits including subscribing to a regular newsletter will be possible.
NHFC program staff will provide national leadership in the area of health freedom. Staff will participate in the development of workable solutions. It will serve the public by educating and encouraging individuals and group leaders to understand health freedom situations in the context of the broader state, national, and international health freedom arena. Staff will faithfully promote basic principles of health freedom; an informed environment, conduct guidelines for practitioners, reasonable standards of harm, and consumer complaint processes. With this knowledge the public will be better equipped to design solutions that will create an acceptable balance between the individual’s right of self determination and free choice, and governments’ concerns for public safety.
NHFC is unique in that it supports a mediative and nonconfrontational approach to conflict resolution and problem solving. NHFC’s hope is that it will contribute to the healing of the people by reflecting a spirit of tolerance, compassion, and cooperation, qualities they believe necessary in every healing journey. NHFC holds that the community of the world must make a sincere effort to work together to find harmony. Differences thus will be approached as opportunities for growth and understanding.
We have described the urgent need for a professional team and a central educational and informational resource center for health freedom. But why is NHFC the organization that can best accomplish this endeavor?
Courageous people and common purposes are key elements in successful organizations. Effective members have the courage to assume responsibility; the desire to serve; the will to challenge; and the commitment to participate in transformation. Their common purpose binds them together and gives meaning to their activities.
The Common Purpose
Our mission is to promote access to all health care information, services, treatments, and products; to promote an understanding of the laws and factors impacting the right to access; and to promote the health of the people of this nation.
This mission calls for respect of our individual rights to self-determination: the right of all people to make their own personal health care choices in their healing process. In order to have that right in the fullest sense of the word, we believe that people must have access to the broadest range of health care options, practitioners, treatments, and truthful information.
Laws and public policy should no longer be based on unfair discrimination against particular practitioners or treatments, or on the demands of special interest groups or institutions, but rather should be based on true issues of the healing relationship, i.e., an informed environment, ethical conduct of practitioners, reasonable standards of actual harm, and available avenues for client complaints.
In order to carry out this expansive mission NHFC is unprecedented in gathering together distinguished courageous health freedom leaders from across the country.
The Founding Leaders
For over a decade, NHFC’s Cofounder and Executive Director Diane Miller, J.D., has worked to defend consumer options in health care. As co-counsel in State v. Saunders, Miller defended a farmer selling colostrum to persons that were sick. The case turned on whether an unlicensed practitioner could practice healing without a medical license. Charges were dismissed after two hung juries. An avid health freedom advocate and founding member of Minnesota health freedom organizations, Miller successfully helped draft and lobby to passage the groundbreaking Minnesota Complementary and Alternative Health Care Freedom of Access Act of 2000.
Cofounder and Treasurer Leo Cashman, an educator/activist/writer on health, nontoxic dentistry and health freedom issues, has dedicated his life to freedom issues. As a founding member of two Minnesota health freedom organizations, he worked to pass the Minnesota legislation for freedom of access to complementary and alternative health care. Cashman is currently Executive Director of national DAMS, Dental Amalgam Mercury Syndrome, an organization in the forefront of nontoxic dentistry issues.
Cofounder and President Jerri Johnson, homeopath, registered nurse, and a health freedom lobbyist and activist, is a community organizer. As founding member of the Minnesota Natural Health Coalition and the Minnesota Natural Health – Legal Reform Project, Johnson helped to lobby and facilitate the passage of the Minnesota legislation. She currently continues to work on health freedom issues.
Board member William Lee Rand, Reiki teacher, author and publisher, is founder of The International Center for Reiki Training, one of the largest Reiki organizations in the world. As a writer and teacher Rand has gained international acclaim and teaches in many countries. His organizational skills greatly benefit the movement and his broad understanding of the potential of healing ignites his passion for health freedom.
Board member Norm Shealy, M.D., is one of the world’s leading experts in pain management. He founded The Shealy Institute, respected worldwide for its innovative and successful rehabilitation approaches to pain management. Dr. Shealy is founder of the American Holistic Medical Association and his spirit and passion for opening up new options in health care and medicine is well known. As a former surgeon and now as a leading medical doctor in the field of energy medicine, Dr. Shealy brings an invaluable history and perspective to the NHFC’s Board. He currently is director of Shealy Wellness Center in Springfield, Missouri, is president of the Holos Institute of Health, and hosts a regular talk radio show on wellness.
WHAT SUCCESS WILL MEAN
What will life be like for citizens seeking to protect access to healing options, once all the funds are raised and all the programs are in place?
An individual seeking access to options will no longer be a lone voice amidst powerful special interest groups when they attempt to protect their constitutional rights.
Seekers of health freedom will have a place to turn to gain support and understanding. They will benefit from NHFC’s educational and informational resources and guiding principles. Individuals will have a way to become educated, articulate, successful community leaders advocating for health freedom. They will become equipped to be vigilant and successful in protecting their right to have maximum health care options and choice.
On a daily basis, health freedom advocates will be able to contact and speak with NHFC staff directly, or go to NHFC’s Web site for up-to-date information on state and national health freedom issues. They will be able to view important documents and purchase important health freedom materials, books, tapes, and videos. Individuals will learn where they can attend public speaking meetings or longer conferences on special health freedom topics. Individuals involved in legislative actions may be interested in viewing new models of legislation drafted by NHFC program staff or requesting program staff to give a technical presentation to a particular group. NHFC members will receive benefits including a regular health freedom newsletter.
NHFC staff themselves will have the adventure of responding to the public’s need and to work together in a professional team environment. The team approach will be especially satisfactory because it will give staff the opportunity to research and discuss health freedom issues with colleagues on a daily basis. In turn, this will generate an environment of more in-depth understanding of health freedom issues for creating new models of public policy and laws. NHFC believes that this teamwork is essential for creating a shift in consciousness and will contribute to the molding and shaping of the future of this very important constitutional issue.
The National Health Freedom Coalition is committed to assisting the public in protecting its constitutional rights. NHFC will create a presence that will live into the future. It will hold the vision and encourage us to work together to keep the voice of health freedom alive in our country.