In 2014, SFSBM's "Legislative Updates" tracked 35 bills impacting, for better or worse, CAM practitioners: naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, TCM and "alternative medicine practitioners." It was a losing season for them, a winning season for us. Let's review.
Naturopaths attempted to gain licensing with a broad scope of practice in 10 states. They want to be licensed as primary care physicians in all 50 states and their 2014 licensing bills reflected this desire. They failed in 9. One bill, in New Jersey, remains pending because New Jersey is one of only 2 states (Virginia is the other) where 2014 bills carry over to the 2015 sessions.
Naturopaths did get an expansion of their scope of practice
On the other hand, a bill that would have eliminated important restrictions on naturopaths treating pediatric patients did not pass in
Chiropractors are already licensed in all 50 states but they want more. They didn't get it, for the most part, in 2014. In Minnesota, chiropractors can now "detect" the non-existent "subluxation" with CAT and PET scans and MRIs. They will also be able to use acupuncture with additional training. Another victory for chiropractic, but not patients, was gained when an Oklahoma bill requiring chiropractors to obtain written consent from patients prior to
Otherwise, nothing much went their way.
Chiropractors also attempted to limit the competition with a bill preventing physical therapists from performing joint manipulations (in California) and physical therapists (in Washington) struck back with a bill that specifically allows PTs to do the same. It was a double loss for chiropractors and a double win for patients. The California bill didn't pass; the Washington bill did. Other attempts to improve the chiropractic bottom line failed as well. A bill in Washington would have prevented "discrimination" against chiropractors and allowed them to perform physicals for school athletics and commercial drivers licenses. A bill in New York would mandate that chiropractors perform
Acupuncture and TCM didn't accomplish much either in 2014. The only bright spot was Pennsylvania, and even that was a mixed bag. As it stands, an acupuncturist must refer a patient to a physician if he treats a patient's "condition" (undefined) for more than 60 days. He must still do so under a new law that passed, but is exempt from the requirement if the patient does not present with a "condition" (still undefined). On the plus side, acupuncturists must now carry at least $1 million in liability insurance.
Other than that, the acupuncturists couldn't get anything favorable passed. Not a practice act (Alabama), not a "review board" to consider whether they should be licensed (Louisiana), not a practice expansion (Arizona, Mississippi), not even a "commission on acupuncture and wellness" to consider how to "integrate" acupuncture into state health care. Nor could they get a bill passed in California creating a "Traditional Chinese Medicine Traumatologist" certification. What is "Traditional Chinese Medicine Traumatology," you ask? It's a system of treating musculoskeletal conditions by stimulation of "acupressure points" to "open the body's defensive chi and stimulate energy movement in the meridians." Let's give credit where credit is due. Even the California Legislature saw through this one. Or maybe not. Maybe they just ran out of time.
Finally, the woo-iest of the woo practitioners couldn't eliminate restrictions on their practice in Colorado. Last year, Colorado passed a bill letting pretty much anyone treat anybody with "alternative medicine." As is true of the Colorado naturopathic licensing act, there are safeguards for children, so even if parents are credulous enough to see one of these practitioners, their opportunity to get their hands on the children is limited. A bill to eliminate these restrictions didn't pass. One wonders if Colorado is experiencing a bit of CAM buyer's remorse.
It's been a winning legislative season for science-based medicine. But don't get too comfy. All 50 states will hold legislative sessions in 2015, and over half of those will carry over bills introduced in 2015 to 2016. The naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists and TCM practitioners will be at it again. We'll be watching.