November ’15 Acupuncture News Update, Chapter 1

It isn’t easy keeping up with Acupuncture News. Now and then a “clear the decks” post (or two, or three) is needed. Here goes:

HR 3849: Representative Judy Chu (CA) introduced “The Heroes and Seniors Act ” which would add acupuncturist services to Medicare and would increase the availability of acupuncture to members of the military and Veterans. The bill has a long list of endorsing organizations. Supporters should share their analysis of what would happen in the twenty states with fewer than 100 LAcs*. In a business with competitors, creating demand for a service without the ability to provide it is a bad move.  I’d be more worried if I didn’t agree with – there is a 0% chance of the bill being enacted.

Dry Needling: In late September the North Carolina Acupuncture Licensing Board filed a complaint in the General Court of Justice against the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners, asking the court, among other things, to declare dry needling the unlawful practice of acupuncture. In early October the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy filed their counter suit in US District Court seeking triple damages for the NCALB’s illegal and anticompetitive acts. Not surprisingly the same LAcs who cheered on the NCALB suit were outraged that the NCPTE would return fire. Given the SCOTUS ruling from this past year I believe the acupuncture community is in a risky place. If the PT’s prevail it will be a game changer nationwide. Did the AG’s office (which had previously ruled that Dry Needling could be within PT scope) advise the NCALB on their complaint? Are all North Carolina Licensees picking up the legal tab for what looks like outside counsel?

In other news the acupuncture community has been touting the revised AAMA Policy on Dry Needling. The Middle Eastern saying “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” comes to mind. It’s a strategy that can win battles, and can create more of them. I don’t think of Medical Acupuncturists or PT’s as enemies. I do remember our insistence that the 200 (or 300?) hour training of the MD Acupuncturists is insufficient. And I wonder whether the PT’s could increase their training to 200 (or 300?) hours and then argue that all of acupuncture is open to them.

Nevada: The minutes of the November 5th Nevada Board of Oriental Medicine haven’t yet been posted, but I understand from attendees that the Board is planning to hire legal counsel, the cost of which will fall on existing licensees. Why does the Board need to hire legal counsel? Because they continue to pursue actions that go against existing code and legislation, rejecting the counsel of the Attorney General’s office. The news from Nevada is a reminder that having an independent acupuncture board isn’t necessarily great for the public or the profession.

Looks like there will be at least one more “Clear the Decks” post. Coming soon  – news about: acupuncture and insurance, NCCAOM’s annual report and more, ACAOM’s hot news, regulation in the District of Columbia, Lamar Odom and the future of herbal regulation, and what’s happening in the AAAOM.


* I use LAc to refer to all professionals holding the proper government license to provide primarily acupuncture and TCM services. Having no clear way to refer to, define, or describe this group of individuals is representative of our challenges!


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© Elaine Wolf Komarow and The Acupuncture Observer, 2013-2033. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from Elaine Wolf Komarow is prohibited. Excerpts and links are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

3 thoughts on “November ’15 Acupuncture News Update, Chapter 1

  1. What the heck are “we” doing???? Will our profession be dumbed down to just sticking needles???

    Elaine – are “We” are fighting over poor paying insurance funds? Isn’t that all this is about? PT want another billing modality and acupuncture is a quick way to generate some funds.

    Ugh!!! Someone out there stop it. It’s like watching a car accident….you can’t turn away but you know what’s coming.

    Why can’t we focus on these organizations focus on patient education? Example: I highly doubt a client would go to a PT for digestive issues. A PT doesnt deliver a medicine. We do. That’s a big difference.

  2. Thanks for this very informative post. Doing a great job of tracking national trends. Here are a few of my own observations. I have been told HR3849 is a bill meant to feel out the national temperature regarding support for acupuncture in the mainstream; i.e., beyond that within the profession. I count 20 states with fewer than 100 LAcs. I prefer to use NPIs as the indicator. NC has 271. NV has 61. I looked into your question about who will pay for outside counsel. Here are the fees th NCALB can charge. These look sufficient to raise a few hundred thousand bucks to cover all NCALB expenses.

    21 NCAC 01 .0103 FEES
    The following fees shall apply:
    (1) Application (non-refundable) $100.00
    (2) Initial biennial licensing $500.00
    (3) Renewal of biennial licensing $300.00
    (4) Late license renewal (additional) $200.00

    It seems more likely that NCALB would use state counsel to defend their position. I also doubt the NCALB would or could call for a “special fee” on their own – without higher authority. Her is contact for NCALB counsel NCALB Counsel, Mike Tadych I see that 6 of 7 board members are LAcs; all listed with contact info.

    I agree that a possible settlement position would be to require PTs to meet same training hours as MDs. Perhaps it is time to consider what LAc training should cover. I could easily see the argument made that inserting needles into patients need not require hundreds of hours in TCM. Such is implicit in the AAMA release. Perhaps LAcs need less training in TCM and more in biomed which PTs, RNs, PAs, DDSs, DPMs and MDs have. The closer acupuncture that acupuncture as a procedure/intevention gets to the mainstream the further we move from what Linda Barnes referred to as the “paradigm wars.”

    • It’s not that the Nevada fees aren’t sufficient to hire outside counsel, but that the Nevada practitioners don’t support the Board’s actions. So, it adds insult to injury for the Board to use their incredibly high fees to work against what most see as the good of the profession.

      Based on the names on the NCALB complaint, it looks to me like outside counsel. I use that as an indication that the AG’s office didn’t support the action.

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