A California bill requiring the California Acupuncture Board to create a new Chinese medicine profession called “Traditional Chinese Medicine traumatologists” has been narrowly defeated. Senator Leland Yee (D- San Francisco) introduced the bill (SB628) and has announced his intentions to reintroduce the bill next year.
The California State Oriental Medical Association (CSOMA) was a driving force opposing bill SB628 in the California legislature. CSOMA asserted that TCM traumatology is “part of the broader field of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, a field already regulated by the California Acupuncture Board.” According to California law, licensed acupuncturists may perform acupuncture and “perform or prescribe the use of oriental massage, acupressure, breathing techniques, exercise, heat, cold, magnets, nutrition, diet, herbs, plant, animal, and mineral products, and dietary supplements to promote, maintain, and restore health....” The new traumatologist profession would have overlapped with the scope of practice of acupuncturists.
The California Assembly Committee for Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection voted against SB 628. Assemblymember Mary Hayashi (Dem - Hayward area) helped to defeat the bill. She is also known for introducing AB783, a bill intended to save thousands of physical therapy jobs. Joining her in opposition to SB628 were Bill Berryhill (Rep - Stockton area), Fiona Ma (Dem - Western San Francisco/Daly City area) and Cameron Smyth (Rep - Santa Clarita area). Betsy Butler (Dem - Western LA County area) abstained from the vote. Those supporting SB628 were Michael Allen (Dem - Napa Valley area), Mike Eng (D - Rosemead area), Jerry Hill (Dem - San Mateo County area), and Curt Hagman (Rep - Chino Hills area).
Standards and Clarity
Under bill SB628, “Traditional Chinese Medicine traumatologists” had no standards, program accreditation, exams or a defined scope of practice. CSOMA noted that fees paid by acupuncturists to the California Acupuncture Board to maintain licensure could have been used to run the TCM Traumatology Committee.
Traumatology Committee Interests
SB628 would have required the California Acupuncture Board to create a “Traumatology Committee.” The new committee would have been responsible for certifying “Traditional Chinese Medicine traumatologists.” The newly formed Traumatology Committee would have been composed of six members. Four of the six members would have been licensed physicians and surgeons or members representing their interests.
CSOMA opposed the bill for several reasons. Under SB628, applicants could apply for this certification between January 1, 2012 and December 15, 2012. After that, no new applicants would have been allowed and there would have been no future opportunities to obtain this certification from the Traumatology Committee. This made SB628 a unique and unusual bill. It created a medical profession and then only allowed one year in which individuals may join it. CSOMA asserts that this provision satisfies the needs of special interest groups seeking certification without having to obtain licensure through existing opportunities.
SB628 required no certification examination. No written or practical knowledge was required to obtain the certification. This would make “Traditional Chinese Medicine traumatologists” the only medical profession in California without an examination process for certification. CSOMA asserted that the absence of certification exams posed a “significant threat to consumer safety.” In addition, SB628 did not include certification standards nor did it include a scope of practice. CSOMA notes that TCM traumatology would have been the only medical profession in California without educational standards, program accreditation, exams, or a scope of practice.
Acupuncture Continuing Education – Acupuncture CEUs
No continuing education requirements would have applied to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) traumatologists. California continuing education requirements apply to acupuncture CEUs and every other medical profession in California except for the proposed TCM traumatologists. This is unusual given the 50 acupuncture CEUs (continuing education units) required for acupuncturists every two years in California. Acupuncturists are trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine and have enormous educational, licensing and examination requirements with a highly defined scope of practice, certification and educational standards.
Strange But True
It is odd that a new group may emerge and be awarded the Traditional Chinese Medicine title without any defined standards while acupuncturists work for years to obtain and then maintain licensure. Moreover, it is unusual that a bill creating a new medical profession received any support even though a definition of a scope of practice was not included in the bill.
CSOMA helped to defeat SB628 with the aid of the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences, Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM), Association of Korean Asian Medicine and Acupuncture of California (AKAMAC), California Certified Acupuncturists Association (CCAA), Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), Five Branches University, Japanese Acupuncture Association of California (JAAC), National Alliance of Korean Asian Medicine & Acupuncture of USA, National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), National Federation of Chinese TCM Organizations, National Guild of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, Nine Star University, Southern California University of Health Sciences, and United California Practitioners of Chinese Medicine (UCPCM).