Legislative Action Involving Acupuncture
— Gavin Elliott, MD, FAAMA
I would like to take this opportunity to make sure you are all aware that changes in legislation that could have an impact on your practice are regularly occurring at both the state and national level. Your legislative committee is currently quite active.
First off, we’re monitoring or acting on 48 bills in the following categories and locations:
- Acupuncture:27 bills in CT, HI, IA, KY, MD, MO, MT, NY, NJ, NM, NY, OK, TX, WA, & WV
- Chronic Pain: 5 bills in CO, MT, NH, NY, & WA
- Dry Needling: 8 bills in MD, NJ, VA, & WA
- Opioids: 2 bills in MO & WV
We have reached out to the course coordinators from the Academy for Pain Research, Acumed, and HMI for assistance in notifying graduates of bills in MT and OK that could affect their acupuncture practices.
Secondly, the committee is actively working on these bills:
NY A1564 – This bill would permit non-licensed persons to do auricular acupuncture. We’re working with the Acupuncture Society of New York on this. Letters have been sent to the bill’s sponsor, committee chairs, and NY AAMA members in opposition to the bill. Letters have been sent to the sponsor of the assembly bill, committee chairs, and NY AAMA members in opposition to the bill.
MT HB152 – The bill states that only LAcs may do acupuncture. We’ve sent letters to the sponsor and spoken with the lawyers. Emails were sent to HMI, AcuMed, and Academy of Pain Research to inform their MT grads to contact the sponsor to support our amendment to clarify that physicians may continue to use solid needles for therapy.
OK HB2113 – This bill would establish an acupuncture practice act because acupuncture is not currently regulated in OK. The sponsor is receptive to our amendment to include wording permitting physicians to practice acupuncture within their scope of practice. Emails were sent to the grads from the three courses.
MDHB172 – This bill would allow athletic trainers to dry needle and provide electric stimulation to needles. A version of this bill passed in the MD senate last year but failed in the house. They have resubmitted it to the new legislature. It has backing by the professional sports teams in the state and will be an uphill battle for us. We are working with local and national LAcs to oppose this measure.
HI HB641, SB845, & SB946 – These bills update the acupuncture practice act with new definitions and continuing education requirements. The wording prohibiting physicians from practicing acupuncture is unchanged, Hawaii is one of two states that prohibit physicians to practice acupuncture without graduating from an acupuncture school. The House bill has been sent to the Health & Homelessness and the Consumer Protection & Commerce Committees. The Senate bills have been sent to the Health & Human Services Committee. There is no scheduled date for the committee hearings yet. Here are links to the bills if you’d like to read them.
Comprehensive Acupuncture Act of 2023 – This is a federal bill; it is the newest version of the ‘Acupuncture for Our Heroes and Acupuncture for Our Seniors’ bills from CA Rep. Judy Chu. The initial primary focus of this bill was to qualify LAcs to bill and receive payment from Medicare for acupuncture services. The new bill replaces the term “qualified acupuncturist” with “licensed acupuncturist,” which could create a problem for physicians. It has not been introduced yet. We have reached out to Rep. Chu’s aide to discuss this and will be reaching out to any co-sponsors once they are known. Subsequently, we will contact involved committee members.
Please see additional details in the Legislative Report section below. If any of these bills are taking place in your state, I urge you to take action and contact the sponsors and members of the various committees that the bill will pass through. If you need a template or other information relating to these matters, feel free to contact us.