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2017 Acupuncturist Profession Landmarks in Focus

15 May 2018 4:51 PM | Anonymous

2017 Acupuncturist Profession Landmarks in Focus

American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Public Policy Committee

·         The Wyoming Acupuncture Practice Act is signed into law by Governor Matthew Mead in March.[1]

·         The profession is regulated in forty-seven states, with clearly defined educational, credentialing, and practice standards.[2]  Acupuncturists prepare for introduction of legislation in the three states without practice acts:  Alabama, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

·         Clean Needle Technique Manual 7th Edition 2017 Revision is released by the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.  The manual defines “safety standards and best practices applicable to any healthcare practitioner who uses a filiform needle or related techniques.” [3]

·         The Kansas Acupuncture Practice Act of 2016, effective July 1, 2017, statutorily defines acupuncture as “needle insertion…for the…correction of any abnormal physiology” and the “practice of acupuncture” to be inclusive of techniques called “dry needling…and similar terms,”[4] in alignment with national association dry needling position statements.[5,6,7,8,9,10,11]

·         Medicaid beneficiaries have access to acupuncture care in nine[12] states:  California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.  Medicaid pilot programs are implemented in other states[12] and Medicaid directors urge use of non-pharmacological methods, such as acupuncture, to “bring about a reduction in prescription drug abuse and overdose, resulting in an overall reduction in healthcare expenses and an improvement in health outcomes of Medicaid beneficiaries.”[13]

·         Acupuncture is designated as an Essential Health Benefit (EHB) in six states (California, Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Washington) and four territories (American Samoa, Guam, North Mariana Island, Virgin Islands) since 2014.  Acupuncture meets, at minimum, five of the EHB criteria and service categories of care:  ambulatory patient services, maternity/infertility, mental health and substance use disorders services, rehabilitative services, preventative wellness, and chronic disease management.[12]

·         Veteran access to temporary acupuncture care increases[14,15] as President Donald Trump, Congress, and the United States Department of Veteran Affairs take action to replenish VA Choice Program funds.[16,17,18]

·         Congresswoman Judy Chu re-introduces the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) historic federal bills to the United States Congress in June as the “Acupuncture for Heroes and Seniors Act of 2017-2018” and the “Acupuncture for our Heroes Act of 2017-2018” with aim to permanently open access to qualified acupuncturists to veterans, military, seniors, disabled, and more (beneficiaries of VHA, TriCare, Medicare),[19] in alignment with the profession’s consensus conference of 2009.

·         The Joint Commission releases the R3 Report detailing new and revised pain assessment and management standards applicable to Joint Commission-accredited hospitals, effective 1/1/18.  Standards include the provision of non-pharmacologic pain treatment by Licensed Independent Practitioners, such as Licensed Acupuncturists.[20,2]

·         The National Association of Attorneys General request in September that the American Health Insurance Plans prioritize member incentives for non-pharmacological pain management options, such as acupuncture,21 in response to President Donald Trump’s opioid emergency declaration[22] in August.

·         Clinically relevant real-world acupuncture efficacy studies increase.[23]

·         The IRS provides detailed instructions to self-payers in December for deducting acupuncture as a medical expense on 2017 income tax forms.[24]


1 Wyoming Acupuncture Practice Act 2017

2 Gale M, Hospital Practice: Recognition of Acupuncturist as a Licensed Independent Practitioner (LIP). Meridians.  2016; 3(4): 11-16.

3 CCAOM.  Clean Needle Technique Manual 7th Edition.

4 Kansas Statutes Annotated and Administrative Regulations Pertaining to those Professions Licensed and Regulated by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts.  January 2017: 282.

5 AAAOM Position Statement on Trigger Point Dry Needling and Intramuscular Manual Therapy. 2013.

6 American Academy of Medical Acupuncture.® AAMA Policy on Dry-Needling. 2017.

7 American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. AAPM&R Position on Dry Needling. 2012.

8 American Medical Association.  Dry Needling is an Invasive Procedure.  2016.

9 National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.  NCCAOM® and the NCCAOM® Academy of Diplomates Dry Needling Position. 2017.

10 Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.  Position Paper on Dry Needling. 2011.

11 Fan AY, Xu J. Li YM. Evidence and expert opinions:  Dry needling versus acupuncture (III) – The American Alliance for Professional Acupuncture Safety (AAPAS) White Paper 2016. Chin J Integr Med. 2017 Mar 23(e):163-165.

12Bathurst R, Valentine-Davis B, Williamson T. Acupuncture and the Oklahoma Budget Crisis:  Self Regulation and Workplace Inclusivity of Acupuncturists Relieves Healthcare Costs, Provides Recurrent Revenue, and Protects the Public. OKAA.  August 9, 2017.

13Marsh & McLennan Companies. State Medicaid Interventions for Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse Overdose: A Report for the National Association of Medicaid Directors.  National Association of Medicaid Directors. 2014.






19 H.R.2839:  Acupuncture for Heroes and Seniors Act of 2017.

20 The Joint Commission. R3 Report.


22 Oliphant J. Trump Declares National Emergency on Opioid Abuse.  Reuters. Accessed August 10, 2017.

23 Carter K, Olshan-Perlmutter M, Martini J, Cairns S. NADA Ear Acupuncture:  An Adjunctive Therapy to Improve and Maintain Positive Outcomes in Substance Abuse Treatment.  Behavioral Sciences. 2017. 7(2); 37.

24 Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service.  Publication 502 Medical and Dental Expenses. December 01, 2017: 5.

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