WISCA Opposes SB 542 & AB 765

 

The Wisconsin Society of Certified Acupuncturists opposes SB 542/AB 765 because it puts the public in harms way and creates a competitive disadvantage between acupuncturists and chiropractors. The bill creates an incentive for chiropractors to bill for unnecessary services by blurring the line on insurance coverage and promoting fee splitting. This bill hurts Wisconsin acupuncturists as small business owners and is a risk for healthcare consumers since 100 hours of unsupervised and non- clinical training, as proposed in the bill, is insufficient for the safe use of acupuncture.

Acupuncture Profession

Acupuncture is not a covered benefit on the majority of insurance plans in the state of Wisconsin. Acupuncturists must work hard to build and sustain a practice that is not reliant on insurance reimbursement, unlike most other medical professionals. Chiropractors are able to grow and sustain successful businesses thanks to an insurance mandate for chiropractic care. This allows a chiropractor to provide other services, like acupuncture, at a discounted rate. Acupuncturists cannot rely on insurance reimbursement to sustain their businesses and therefore do not have the luxury of discounting the true cost of acupuncture services. Furthermore, the bill grants a legal fee splitting relationship between associate chiropractors which establishes a medical business model that encourages treatments regardless of medical necessity.

National Examinations and Accredited Education

The NCCAOM was established in 1982 to validate entry-level competency in the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. The state of Wisconsin established certification for the profession of acupuncture in 1989 and requires candidates to pass NCCAOM examinations. On December 19, 2013 the NCCAOM issued an opinion letter stating the proposed bill poses a threat to recognized standards of competence and safety and may put healthcare consumers at risk. It is in the best interest of the public to hold all practitioners to the same entry- level competency standards established by the NCCAOM.

To become certified to practice acupuncture in Wisconsin, candidates must complete 1,900 hours of study, including 660 hours of clinical supervised training, at an accredited institution, pass the NCCAOM boards and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s) that ensure the safe practice of acupuncture. In stark contrast, the proposed legislation allows chiropractors to become certified to practice acupuncture with only 100 hours of education, with no supervised clinical training, and without passing the NCCAOM board examinations.

Wisconsin’s Midwest College of Oriental Medicine’s (MCOM) course curriculum includes 1,524 hours of classes and supervised clinics in acupuncture and Oriental medicine and allows credit for equivalent bioscience coursework. In contrast, standard chiropractic curriculum is devoted to ensuring chiropractors can act as primary care providers and make western differential diagnoses. National University for Health Sciences course curriculum includes only 82.5 hours of training dedicated to manual chiropractic adjustments and there are NO courses pertaining to acupuncture or Oriental medicine.

Conclusion

Constituents rely on state agencies to govern healthcare professionals and safeguard the public’s health interests. Legislators should oppose this bill because it circumvents the established standards of care for safely practicing acupuncture, promotes fee splitting, and creates an unfair economic disadvantage for state certified acupuncturists who are business owners.

 


 

WISCA Opposed The Nutrition Bill AB742/SB394

In 2008, WISCA lead a grassroots effort against the Nutrition Bill AB742/SB394. This bill would have eliminated the ability of Certified Acupuncturists to prescribe herbs, or counsel patients on nutrition, supplements and diet.

Due to grassroots efforts of several organizations, Bill AB742/SB394 was eventually amended to provide an exemption for many medical providers, including acupuncturists. The bill was dropped due to these amendments.

WISCA continues to monitor the situation to insure that if this bill returns, it contains the proper amendments to maintain our current scope of practice as Certified Acupuncturists.