Your activism is once again bearing fruit—but the dietetic monopoly is fighting back with its most underhanded move yet.
We are seeing a number of state victories in the battle against monopolization of nutrition services by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (see below). You may know it better as the American Dietetic Association, or ADA—the organization changed its name last month to explicitly claim authority over the word “nutrition”!
Certified nutritionists and concerned citizens are voicing their objections to the organization’s blatant collusion with the junk food and big pharmaceutical industries (visit the Really Eat Right campaign website for details on why this is such a vital health issue), and because you are fighting back, the legislation they sponsored is being defeated in state after state. As a result, dietitian leaders are feeling the pressure—so they are striking back with sneaky and frankly disingenuous maneuvers. In one state, dietitians were able to get an amendment inserted into a completely unrelated bill with almost no notice to the public!
The Wisconsin Dietetic Association attached an amendment to AB 547, which was being considered by the Wisconsin Assembly’s Committee on Homeland Security and State Affairs for a vote. Why wasn’t it introduced before a health committee? Because that’s where advocates would be expecting it, and this was a way to have it slip by unnoticed. There was no public notice of the amendment until one day before the hearing—hardly a democratic process!—and so there was almost no opportunity for the public to give their input to their legislators. The bill itself, of course, had nothing whatsoever to do with nutrition.
The bill’s language changes what is currently certification to licensure, since many private insurers will not reimburse for nutrition services unless providers are licensed. However, even the current “certification” law is deeply biased because only Registered Dietitians (that is, those who have passed the exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) can become certified.
This will give RDs an economic advantage and severely affect the business of other nutrition professionals. It will also give nutritionists second-class status in the eyes of the public—because even though nutritionists are are equally qualified (or more highly qualified) than dietitians, by Wisconsin law they cannot be licensed as nutritionists unless they are dietitians!
The bill passed the committee with the amendment intact—and with only two legislators opposed. Next the bill goes before the full Assembly, where it will be far more difficult to stop. There will, however, be one more hearing—probably on March 6—so there is time to oppose the bill. If you are a Wisconsin resident, please take action now!
Wisconsin’s neighbor to the south, Illinois, already has a horrible monopolistic scope-of-practice bill carved out for dietitians. With SB 2936, however, AND (formerly ADA) is attempting to amend the existing law that regulates dietitians to make it more comprehensive; it also increases fines to $10,000 per violation for practicing dietetic or nutrition services without a license.
SB 2936 also makes the state board even more biased, changing the composition from seven members (with a physician and a nurse required to be members) to five members (and no medical professional as a member)—with four of the seats being filled by licensed dietitians!
We are working with our allies in Illinois to fight the bill. If you are a resident of Illinois, please take action on now!
Some Recent Victories
Because of your excellent grassroots activism and our working with a coalition of nutritionists and educating state legislators, some of our recent campaigns have found success. Thank you for making your voice heard!
- In California, AB 575 was defeated! We are now setting up meetings with legislators to continue to educate them.
- In Indiana, HB 1187 was defeated! The bill died in committee.
- In Colorado, HB 1060 was defeated—seven legislators voted against it when it was heard in the committee! Even though the Colorado regulatory agency has stated that Colorado did not need licensure for RDs and that this was unnecessary legislation, the Dietitians HQ (the AND, formerly the ADA) sponsors a new bill in the state every year in an attempt to strengthen its monopoly.
- In Virginia, HB345 was a controversial bill that would have allowed only licensed dietitians to practice a wide range of nutrition services including nutrition diagnosis and intervention. Because citizens opposed it so strongly, the decision to hear the bill was passed over till 2013! We will keep close watch on the bill if and when it is picked up again next year.
- In West Virginia, HB4045 was a bill whereby only licensed dietitians could practice dietetics or medical nutrition therapy. Four of the five board members would have been registered or licensed dietitians, and since the exam to qualify for licensure will be board-determined, it would almost certainly be the dietitians’ exam. Practicing without a license would have brought a fine of between $100 and $1000, or a jail sentence of up to six months. Thousands of ANH-USA members in West Virginia took action and met with their state representatives, and ANH-USA lobbied the state legislature. They heard our case and refused to take up the bill in the House Judiciary committee. We built great relationships in West Virginia and will continue to work there whenever nutrition access is threatened. The bill will officially die tomorrow, February 29.
Work Still Needed in Other States
- In Hawaii, HB 2570 has been heard twice (and amended twice after exhaustive hearings). The current version of the bill is slightly better but the language is vague enough that it will not provide enough protection for nutritionists. Penalties remain at $1000 per violation, and each day’s violation is deemed a separate offense. If you are a resident of Hawaii, please take action now!
- The status of A5666 in New York and S833 in New Jersey have not changed since our report a couple of weeks ago. Many of our readers have emailed to volunteer their help, so we are continuing to work on educating and meeting with legislators. If you are a resident of New York, please take action here! If you are a resident of New Jersey, please take action here!