In 1989 the State of Wisconsin sought to protect the public by enacting a practice act to regulate the medical practice of acupuncture. Chapter 451 and later RL 70-73 of the state code were created to protect the public and ensure that only people with a nationally recognized minimum level of training would be allowed to utilize this invasive form of medicine.
Since that time acupuncturists have demonstrated a high level of safety and professional conduct. Science continues to validate acupuncture as viable form of medicine. The use of acupuncture is now endorsed by the NIH, WHO, and is covered by the VA medical system and some health insurance.
The term acupuncture has the unfortunate situation that it defines a system of medicine as well as a medical technique. All medical treatments require medical diagnosis to determine the appropriateness of treatment. It would be inappropriate for a surgeon to not be a physician. It is similarly inappropriate for someone to perform acupuncture without having the training in the medical systems that determine why and why not to use the technique.
The hard won acceptance of this medicine through the efforts of acupuncturists who have dedicated their lives to this medicine, is now threatened by many medical professionals who seek to use acupuncture without meeting the certification requirements that were put in place to protect the public. Medical professions such as physical therapists and chiropractors, who have no other invasive medical procedures as part of their scope of practice, are trying to circumvent the minimum certification requirements that were crafted to protect the public and maintain professional standards.
Wisconsin does not have a parity insurance law. This means that insurance companies can (and do) set rules where they pay for acupuncture only if it is performed by a medical doctor or medical professional other than a state and nationally certified acupuncturist. This creates the situation where patients are encouraged through their insurance plan to get acupuncture from non certified acupuncturists. Hospitals that want to provide acupuncture have a financial incentive to hire non certified acupuncturists.
Medical practitioners who want to utilize acupuncture should have to meet the state required minimum training and certification to practice this form of medicine. Physicians and other medical professionals are free to refer patients to acupuncturists who meet the state requirements. Patients should ask their medial practitioner about their level of training and certification prior to the insertion of non medicated needles as a form of treatment. More information about Physician Medical acupuncture, Physical Therapy Dry needling, and the new Wisconsin Chiropractic acupuncture Bill can be found at the links provided. Patients can check the qualifications of an acupuncture provider on the state website and can contact their legislators and ask that the State of Wisconsin uphold the certification standards that are currently in place for acupuncture practitioners.