Consumer Protection

Creates temporary governor's task force on alternative medicine
to examine current scientific research to determine the benefits
and harmful effects, if any, of the various forms of alternative
medicine.  Findings and recommendations to the governor and
legislature by 11/30/99. (CD1)

THE SENATE                              S.B. NO.           S.D. 1
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                H.D. 1
STATE OF HAWAII                                            C.D. 1

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that alternative medicine
 2 has made inroads in the way Americans perceive health care in the
 3 past decade.  In 1996, The National Library of Medicine and the
 4 MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) Term Working Group, Office of
 5 Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, classified
 6 alternative medicine as an unrelated group of non-orthodox
 7 therapeutic practices, often with explanatory systems that do not
 8 follow conventional biomedical explanations.  The National
 9 Library of Medicine's previous classification termed alternative
10 medicine as non-orthodox therapeutic systems which have no
11 satisfactory scientific explanation for their effectiveness.
12 Others define it as medical interventions not taught at United
13 States medical schools or not available at United States
14 hospitals.  Alternative therapies commonly include:  folk
15 medicine, herbal medicine, diet fads, homeopathy, faith healing,
16 new age healing, chiropractic, acupuncture, naturopathy, massage,
17 aroma therapy, and music therapy.  These therapies are often
18 resorted to by individuals who have HIV, arthritis, cancer, back
19 pain, and other medical conditions.

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 1      The Journal of the American Medical Association recently
 2 reported that the number of individuals in the country who tried
 3 one or more alternative therapies in the previous year increased
 4 from 33.8 per cent in 1990 to 42.1 per cent in 1997.  Americans
 5 make more visits to nontraditional physicians, including 
 6 naturopaths who claim expertise in herbal and other natural
 7 therapies, than to their family doctors, spending almost as much
 8 out of pocket (unreimbursed by health insurance) on alternative
 9 medicine to the tune of $27,000,000,000, as on all unreimbursed
10 physician services of $29,000,000,000.  
11      However, the field of alternative medicine remains fluid and
12 its record is uneven.  Some alternative therapies have become
13 more accepted than others.  For example, acupuncture is now
14 commonly accepted as an effective therapy for certain conditions,
15 regardless of disagreement or skepticism over how and why it
16 works.  In November, 1997, a panel of the National Institutes of
17 Health found that acupuncture is effective in treating painful
18 disorders of the muscle and skeletal systems, such as
19 fibromyalgia and tennis elbow -- even more effective, in some
20 cases, than conventional therapies.  The panel judged acupuncture
21 to be a reasonable option for the relief of postoperative pain
22 and low back pain and gave a qualified endorsement for
23 acupuncture as a supplement to standard remedies for drug

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 1 addiction, carpal-tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, and asthma.  A
 2 Boston University researcher reported that the cost savings from
 3 faster stroke rehabilitation and effective carpal-tunnel syndrome
 4 treatment could cut the nation's annual medical bill by
 5 $11,000,000,000.  In addition, acupuncture has virtually no side
 6 effects.
 7      However, not all alternative therapies have achieved the
 8 same level of traditional acceptance.  For example, although
 9 herbal healing has also taken hold, it is still unclear whether
10 certain herbal remedies are truly therapeutic and what their
11 potential dangerous side effects are.  Yet, Americans spent more
12 than $12,000,000,000 on natural supplements in 1997, nearly
13 double the amount spent in 1994 on remedies such as St. John's
14 wort, ginseng, echinacea, ginkgo biloba, aloe, valerian, kava,
15 and dong quai.  In the currently little-regulated field of herbal
16 remedies, stricter regulation is sure to come as mainstream
17 pharmaceutical companies such as Warner-Lambert, American Home
18 Products, and SmithKline Beecham begin to do serious research and
19 marketing.
20      The purpose of this Act is to stimulate the growth of
21 alternative medicine in Hawaii in a responsible way by subjecting
22 the field to collaborative examination and discussion in the
23 community through a governor's task force on alternative

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 1 medicine.
 2      SECTION 2.  (a)  There shall be created a temporary two-year
 3 governor's task force on alternative medicine composed of members
 4 appointed by the governor representing the following:
 5      (1)  Department of health;
 6      (2)  Department of human services;
 7      (3)  Department of business, economic development, and
 8           tourism;
 9      (4)  Department of commerce and consumer affairs;
10      (5)  Healthcare Association of Hawaii;
11      (6)  Hawaii chapter of the American Medical Association;
12      (7)  Two health plan representatives;
13      (8)  Chiropractors;
14      (9)  Nurses;
15     (10)  Practitioners of acupuncture;
16     (11)  Practitioners of homeopathy;
17     (12)  Practitioners of naturopathy;
18     (13)  Practitioners of native Hawaiian medicine; and
19     (14)  Practitioners of other forms of alternative medicine.
20 The task force shall be chaired by a representative from the
21 department of health.
22      (b)  The task force shall examine the various forms of
23 alternative medicine, and shall examine ways to stimulate growth

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 1 of alternative medicine.  The task force shall recommend to the
 2 governor and the legislature whether certain forms of alternative
 3 medicine should be given formal recognition as a form of
 4 medicine, including any necessary proposed legislation.
 5      (c)  The task force shall submit an interim report to the
 6 legislature no later than March 31, 2000 and shall report its
 7 findings and recommendations to the governor and the legislature
 8 no later than November 30, 2000.  The task force shall terminate
 9 on the adjournment, sine die, of the regular session of 2001.
10      SECTION 3.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.