All Eyes on the Michigan State Legislature

 

Have you ever asked a health professional for advice about your diet, or for information about a dietary supplement, or for clarification about food-related news stories that concern you? How would you react—what would you think, where would you turn—if someone you trusted to advise you on these matters was no longer allowed to do so?

In 2006, the Michigan legislature passed a restrictive Dietetic Nutrition Licensure law intended to prohibit health professionals from incorporating dietetics and nutrition care services into their interactions with patients unless such services were already within their stated scope of practice. According to the Michigan Nutrition Association, such services would be defined as “the integration and application of the scientific principles of food, nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, management, and behavioral and social sciences to achieve and maintain the health of individuals.” Although registered dietitians would have been automatically licensed under the new law, a number of other practitioners would have been prohibited from extending these services without investing time and money in meeting licensing standards. These providers would have included naturopaths, osteopaths, nurses, pharmacists, certified nutrition specialists, certified clinical nutritionists, certified nutritional consultants, certified nutritionists, and others despite having completed post-secondary coursework, supervised training, and certification exams.

CocoNewtonThis bill was set to take effect in Michigan on July 1, 2007, however, bureaucracy ensued, and a grassroots effort to reverse the law was set into motion by the Michigan Nutrition Association, co-founded by my tireless longtime friend and colleague, Coco Newton, MPH, RD, CCN. I received an email from Coco last week and her excitement radiated straight from the subject line: Michigan Repeal Bill Passes on House Floor.

The repeal bill is next headed to the Michigan State Senate. Says Coco, “We are only half way home, but headed in the right direction!” She continues, “Our story inspires some to refer to this quote by Margaret Mead: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’”

I’m pleased to bring Coco’s good news, and the story that continues to unfold in Michigan, to all of my fellow thoughtful committed citizens.

 

Message from the Michigan Nutrition Association:

Greetings! We are very pleased to let you know that yesterday afternoon (11/13)  the MI House voted to pass the Repeal of the Dietetics & Nutrition Licensure law by 71-39, a 2/3 majority!  All Republicans, and approximately 1/3 of Democrats (29%) supported HB 4688. Please take a moment and send a thank you to Representative Ed McBroom who sponsored this bill and worked above and beyond to understand the issues, speak to his colleagues about the issues, and bring all parties to the table. Also Representative Jeff Irwin worked hard to encourage his Democratic colleagues to understand the issues and support the repeal, and deserves a thank you as well.Representative McBroom hosted 4 meetings with representatives of the MI Dietetic Association, MI Nutrition Association, and the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists in October and November to try to find a compromise bill as an alternative to repeal. However the dietitians maintained that their training and credential are superior to any other and we were unable to find a compromise that recognized other credentials and protected jobs.MI needs many more nutrition care providers with a variety of backgrounds. During the House committee hearing legislators learned that there are many excellent training opportunities and credentials outside of the dietetics model and RD credential. These other nutrition providers deserve the right to practice, and the consumer deserves the right to choose a practitioner that matches their needs. For these reasons, the Regulatory Reform Committee and then the full House voted in favor of repeal.

We will continue to advocate for the Senate bill for repeal, SB 579 (identical to HB 4688). We do not believe a compromise regulation that serves Michiganders can be reached with the existing law in place.

The MI Legislature will take a two week break returning at the beginning of December. We know December is a busy month for all but please allow some time to contact your Senators in response to our action alerts.  We hope that the Senate completes the process in 2013, but there is a good possibility it could run into early 2014.  We will keep you updated regarding dates of hearings, voting, etc.

Every phone call, email, letter, or visit to your legislators makes a HUGE difference.  We had dietitians, nutritionists, pharmacists, nurses, researchers, doctors (MD, DO, DDS, ND), health coaches, the business community, and consumers/clients reaching out to communicate with legislators. THEY HEARD YOU! THANK YOU.

With appreciation, and on behalf of the board,Judy Stone, CN, MSWExecutive Director, Michigan  Nutrition Association

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