The Colorado legislature has passed a bill allowing ear acupuncture to be performed by psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, MDs, chiropractors, nurses, physician assistants, and addiction counselors. The bill, if signed into law by the governor, would require these professionals to obtain NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) certification so that they may perform ear acupuncture. The goal of the bill is to allow more professionals to use ear acupuncture for the purposes of treating mental and behavioral health issues and chemical dependency.
Quantity and Quality
Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, supports the measure because she notes that it will make acupuncture “more widely available and make it available at a lower cost.” The Acupuncture Association of Colorado has not taken a stance on the bill. Acupuncturists have expressed concern that minimally trained healthcare professionals may deliver acupuncture at a lower cost but also with lower quality control and with less efficacious results. Proponents seek to create an inexpensive workforce to deliver basic supplementary care especially in the field of drug addiction recovery.
The unusual aspect of the Colorado bill is that it gives NADA certified healthcare professional wide latitude to treat numerous mental and behavioural disorders. The NADA certification involves only 70 hours of training. There is a concern that the Colorado law extends the scope of practice for non-acupuncturists performing acupuncture beyond the intent of NADA training. The Colorado bill also lacks language preventing non-acupuncturists from advertising and representing themselves as trained acupuncture professionals. Under the new Colorado bill, counselors and therapists would be able to use signage and advertising to represent their clinics as acupuncture clinics although no licensed acupuncturists may be present.