Michigan Medical Acupuncture Association

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Acupuncturist Registration in Michigan  -  What Have We Accomplished?

The MMAA does not support Traditional Chinese Medicine/Traditional Asian Medicine (TCM/TAM) shamanism or new age fringe practices. TCM/TAM acupuncturists are most often graduates of non-regionally accredited acupuncture schools that lack college or university level teaching staff or curriculum, especially in the areas of biomedicine. Acupuncture tuition in these schools tops over $100,000.00 and graduates lack even the basic medical skills seen in the training of a medical assistant. Student loan default rates and practice failure are at epidemic levels within the TCM/TAM acupuncture profession.

For the last seven years, efforts by the MMAA and its national parent organization the AMMA have been resisted by in state and national TCM/TAM acupuncturists who seek to promote acupuncture fringe and pseudoscience. This opposition to rational evidence based acupuncture and the MMAA has centered on the Michigan acupuncturist registration bill (Public Act 30, July 1, 2006) and the Granholm appointed state acupuncturist registration board. The MMAA was successful in having several of its members and supporters appointed to the Michigan acupuncture board, including Dr. Arthur Kaminsky. Unfortunately however, Governor Granholm appointed a majority of TCM/TAM acupuncturists to the board. During this long and sometimes arduous process the MMAA has had both successes and setbacks. But, what have we accomplished? The MMAA, working in conjunction with the AMMA and with the assistance of devoted members such as Dr. Arthur Kaminsky, has leveled the playing field with the TCM/TAM acupuncturists in the state of Michigan. This was achieved primarily through the Michigan Attorney General decisions that clarified that acupuncture is a medical procedure and that anyone using the acupuncture modality must either be a licensed physician or work under the delegation and supervision of a licensed physician. Apparently, this interpretation of the acupuncture registration act and the Michigan Public Health Code came as a shock to our opposition. This decision, however, fell in line with the ethical values, standards, and criteria of both the MMAA and the AMMA. We fully support these requirements.

In summary, what we have accomplished relative to the Michigan acupuncture registration law:

  1. We have leveled the playing field against the TCM/TAM acupuncturists in the state of Michigan.
  2. The acupuncturist registration bill has become irrelevant and useless.

TCM/TAM members and their supporters have dominated the board's rule making process, to the point that we now allege that they have violated Michigan state law and have engaged in restraint of trade. While it was primarily the Michigan Attorney General decisions that won the day for our cause, it was also the blunders and biases of the Michigan Board of Acupuncture and their blatant refusal to follow the recommendations of the Michigan Department of Community Health and the Attorney General's Office that has lead to this current state of affairs. Frankly, from the very beginning the TCM/TAM leaders behind the Michigan acupuncturist registration act have failed to understand the implications of their own bill (and the law) and have poorly served their own profession and its members. Thus, through the misguided and alleged trade protectionist actions of the majority of the acupuncture board, we are approaching five years since the passage of the Michigan acupuncturist registration bill, administrative rules for acupuncturist registration have not been adopted, and there is currently no registration of acupuncturists.

Several new members were appointed to the acupuncture board during 2010 and several acupuncture board meetings were cancelled. However, meetings continue to be scheduled into 2011 and we expect that at some point the administrative rules process will proceed. If the proposed rules are adopted by the State of Michigan in their current biased form, the MMAA will be forced to employ legal action against the acupuncture board and the State of Michigan.

In 2010, the MMAA/AMMA decided to abandon the legislative and lobbying process and wait for the rules to be adopted and registration to begin before initiating legal action based upon three complaints:

  1. Violation of the First Amendment clause regarding the establishment of a religion by the State of Michigan.
  2. Restraint of trade.
  3. Blatant violations of the Michigan Public Health Code delegation and supervision requirements, as well as, numerous instances of violations of the Medical Practice Act and the State False Credentials Act. (Diagnosis, claims of cure, and the use of medical instruments or unapproved instruments)

The restraint of trade complaint is the most direct route to a legal remedy related to the activities of the Michigan acupuncture board and the First Amendment argument has the potential of establishing a national precedent that would allow the AMMA to address this same issue in every state that mandates the study of Taoist TCM/TAM, shamanism, and new age acupuncture. In spite of clear guidance from the Michigan Office of the Attorney General and the Michigan Department of Community Health, we allege that Michigan TCM/TAM acupuncturists are diagnosing diseases and disorders, making fraudulent health care claims and claims of cure, using unapproved medical instruments and in a few cases using false credentials from diploma mills.

We should note that, we never sought this fight with the TCM/TAM acupuncturists and there are numerous examples of unity and diversity of training and acupuncture practices in many other states. The issue in Michigan has been the result of the intractable positions of certain personalities in Michigan and the unfortunate state support of TCM/TAM acupuncturist pseudoscience and health care fraud. TCM/TAM acupuncturists and the Michigan Board of Acupuncture must be forced to recognize that acupuncture modality codes are established by the American Medical Association (AMA). These procedure codes (CPT®) 97810, 97811, 97813, and 97814 represent copyrighted property of the AMA - and as such, do not belong to any acupuncture organization. Any intention by the Michigan Board of Acupuncture to limit the use of acupuncture CPT® codes to TCM/TAM practitioners will be met by continued resistance by the MMAA and AMMA leadership and its members.

Where does all of this leave our MMAA members at this time? If you continue to practice in accordance with your Western medical acupuncture training and certification; and continue to practice within the boundaries of the Michigan Public Health Code, you may expect to continue to use the acupuncture modality without difficulty. Specifically, we advise all members to adhere to the law and the guidance from the Michigan Attorney General's office and the Michigan Department of Community Health. We also advise avoidance of the term "acupuncturist" - because of its strong association with pseudoscience and fringe practices. We believe that this title, "acupuncturist" is rapidly becoming discredited, within both the professional and public sectors, as a result of research into acupuncture and the advancing adoption of evidence based values and ethics. Of special note, some MMAA physician members have begun to utilize medical dry needling CPT® codes, instead of the acupuncture codes in order to draw a distinction to their Western Medical Acupuncture approach versus TCM/TAM shamanism and new age fringe practices.

While we are awaiting the outcome of our efforts regarding acupuncture registration, the MMAA/AMMA are accelerating and advancing our practical acupuncture, diplomate, physician supervisor training, and certification programs. To date over 400 Michigan professionals have completed our training, and we expect to top 500 in 2011. At some point, the State of Michigan is going to have to determine whether its mission requirement of protecting the public health is best served by supporting the limited agendas' of out-of-state TCM/TAM fringe acupuncture organizations or better served by including all Michigan acupuncture professionals within the provisions of the Michigan Acupuncturist Registration Act. The MMAA and the AMMA fully participated in the bill and law making process, but the promises made to us by the bill's sponsors, the Governor's Office, and the MDCH have not been kept. In early 2011 we will be meeting with and corresponding with both the new Michigan Governor and the new Attorney General, and will continue our efforts toward advancing our goal of protecting acupuncture in Michigan.

MichiganMedicalAcupuncture.org  December 2010

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