The home of the Kentucky Derby makes the acupuncture news in the Year of the Horse. Out of the gates in the Chinese New Year, the Kentucky State Senate takes up new acupuncture legislation. To learn more about the Chinese New Year, visit the HealthCMi blog on the Year of the Horse.
The Kentucky State Senate committee has approved new acupuncture legislation. As a result, the bill goes to the full Senate for consideration. The bill, SB 29, changes the status of acupuncturists in Kentucky from certified to licensed acupuncturists. Sponsored by State Senator Tom Burford (Nicholasville), the bill amends the original 2006 Kentucky legislation that made acupuncture legal for clinical practice.
In 2006, Kentucky became the 43rd state to enact an acupuncture law allowing for acupuncturists to provide healthcare in the state. The bill swept through the Kentucky House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law by the governor. The new bill amends the original law’s groundwork with minor changes to the language.
SB 29 changes the official title from certified acupuncturist (C.Ac.) to licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.). Sen. Burford notes, “There should be licensing standards.” The new bill also proposes omission of a clause allowing certain educational requirements to be bypassed. The original 2006 legislation allowed acupuncturists to avoid having to complete a minimum of 1,800 hours of education in acupuncture if they were in clinical practice by 2007 and had met other basic criteria. The 1,800 hours includes 300 clinical hours and all hours must have been approved by the ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine).
From 2007 and prior, if acupuncturist applicants had passed the NCCAOM (National Commission for Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) examinations and met other basic requirements, they were eligible for certification as an acupuncturist. This exception is removed by the bill and standardizes the minimum professional educational requirements to mandate ACAOM approved hours.
The Kentucky proposal to tighten education requirements is modest compared with states like California that require a bare minimum of 3,000 hours post-graduate acupuncturist training program hours. Kentucky’s tightening of the reigns is consistent with a general trend in state legislation wherein licensing laws for acupuncturists tend to become more stringent over time.
The basics of the original Kentucky law remain intact in the new bill. It maintains the same acupuncture continuing education requirements of 30 hours every 2 years in the fields of acupuncture or oriental medicine subjects. Acupuncture continuing education hours are required in many states and nationally. Kentucky’s requirement is equivalent to the NCCAOM PDA (professional development activity) requirement of 60 hours every 4 years. By contrast, California has one of the most stringent acupuncture CEU (continuing education unit) requirements of 50 hours every 2 years. Individual states have specialty requirements for acupuncture continuing education and Kentucky is no exception. Kentucky will only renew an acupuncturist’s license if the acupuncture continuing education hours include “evidence of completion of a continuing education course on the human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in the previous ten (10) years.”
The scope of practice remains the same for acupuncturists in the new Kentucky bill. In Kentucky, the practice of acupuncture is defined as the “insertion of acupuncture needles, with or without accompanying electrical or thermal stimulation, at certain acupuncture points or meridians on the surface of the human body for purposes of changing the flow of energy in the body and may include acupressure, cupping, moxibustion, or dermal friction. The practice of acupuncture shall not include laser acupuncture, osteopathic manipulative treatment, chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, or surgery.” Other guidelines remain the same such as disciplinary actions, administrative regulations, renewal requirements, fees and standards of practice.