How do you feel about a regulatory situation that increases the odds that patients will receive acupuncture from minimally trained, non-LAcs while making it difficult for extensively trained LAcs to practice? Is it better or worse if it is a state’s very own LAcs who are creating this situation?
The Delaware Acupuncture Council recently refused to grant a license to one of the most excellent practitioners I know. This Virginia LAc, a NCCAOM AC Diplomate and a Nurse, has had a very successful practice for over 13 years. She is a former president of the Acupuncture Society of Virginia and has studied Medical Qi Gong extensively for the past three years. The three LAcs on the DE Council present for the June meeting refused to grant her a license because she does not have NCCAOM OM Diplomate status. Although the Council was reminded that they could grant an exception, they refused to do so.
It appears that only one of the four LAcs on the Council has the full NCCAOM OM status and one has NCCAOM AC status. A third LAc has no formal acupuncture education or NCCAOM status, holding a degree in ayurvedic medicine granted for overseas study. I could not discover any information about the fourth LAc on the Council.
Delaware passed legislation related to the practice of Acupuncture in 2008, which you can read about here. The legislation required full NCCAOM OM certification, including herbs but included three caveats, as noted in the AT article: 1) acupuncturists practicing in the state at the time the legislation was passed, regardless of education and credentials, were grandfathered in; 2) the legislation did not interfere with the activities of other professionals who were allowed to perform acupuncture; 3) the Acupuncture Council was expressly allowed to waive the requirements as appropriate.
Remember – herbs are not regulated by the FDA, and products containing Chinese herbs are available in the grocery store (see Airborne), or on-line, and are available to the public without prescription or the involvement of any health care professional.
Delaware currently has about 35 LAcs serving a population of about 1 million people. According to my research, there are 9 NCCAOM AC Diplomates in DE, and another 6 OM Diplomates. The decision of the Council only increases the odds that the people of Delaware will receive treatment from non-LAcs.
The way I see it, it isn’t the lack respect from the western world, competition from other professions, or inequities in insurance reimbursement that are the biggest problems facing the profession. It is a system in which small groups of LAcs in various states have determined that more credentials and education are necessary, even for those who are already extensively trained in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. They work for laws and regulations that increase the cost and time necessary to obtain an acupuncture degree and limit practice opportunities for LAcs. This increases the odds that the public will receive treatment from providers who are not LAcs.
With friends like this….