Rep. Chu Introduces Acupuncture for Seniors Act of 2021

Rep. Chu Introduces Acupuncture for Seniors Act of 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 30, 2021 – Today, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) introduced a bill to increase access to acupuncture in our healthcare system, the Acupuncture for Seniors Act. The Acupuncture for Seniors Act ensures that licensed acupuncturists can participate as providers in Medicare so that seniors have another effective treatment option available to them.

“Everyone deserves the ability to take control of their own healthcare, and that should include access to traditional Asian medicine, which has been proven successful at treating a range of health problems for thousands of years,” said Rep. Chu. “And as Americans deal with a chronic pain and opioid epidemic, support for acupuncture as a safe alternative has been increasing over the years. The Affordable Care Act helped to increase access by allowing states to cover acupuncture in plans on state health exchanges, but we must do more. It is my goal to make this treatment available to all Americans, which is why I introduced this bill to help seniors in our Medicare program access acupuncture. Medicare has already acknowledged the value of acupuncture by issuing a National Coverage Determination for chronic lower back pain, but licensed acupuncturists are still prohibited from being Medicare providers. For that, you need an act of Congress, which is exactly what my bill does. This bill will help connect more Americans to the care they need, and ensures we are giving our seniors access to all available treatment options for conditions like chronic pain.”

“This bill solves critical access problems for America’s seniors and Medicare recipients as they seek safe, non-pharmacologic options for pain and improved health,” said American Society of Acupuncturists Chair Olivia Hsu Friedman. “We thank Representative Judy Chu and all those who helped craft this visionary, yet common-sense legislation. It will improve healthcare in the United States, decrease health care costs, and is a meaningful step towards solving America’s opioid crisis.”

“Congresswoman Chu’s bill will play a pivotal role in increasing access to citizens suffering from a host of syndromes that can benefit from acupuncture as a cost-effective, non-addictive treatment option while also increasing the coverage of the largest, most well-trained practitioners of acupuncture in the US,” said Dr. Kallie Guimond, OM.D, MPH, Founder of AcuCongress.

“CSOMA, California’s oldest state acupuncture professional association, is excited to support Congresswoman Chu’s efforts with the Acupuncture for Seniors Act,” said Dr. Nell Smircina, CSOMA President. “Because CSOMA is uniquely focused on advancing acupuncture medicine into the national healthcare delivery system, this bill is in alignment with the vision, hopes and goals of our diverse membership of acupuncture practitioners, students, schools and allied corporations.”

“The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is pleased to support the Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act, which would enable qualified acupuncturist to provide covered services to Medicare beneficiaries,” said Mina Larson, NCCAOM CEO. “The NCCAOM applauds U.S. Representative Judy Chu for her leadership on this effort and looks forward to seeing the profession continue to advance, expand, and thrive as measures such as the Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act help increase access to qualified acupuncturists.”

“Acupuncture has been approved very effectively to treat many medical conditions,” said Dr. Haihe Tian, president of American TCM Association(ATCMA) and TCM American Alumni Association (TCMAAA). “We thank a lot to Rep. Judy Chu’s care for the senior citizens. She has been trying so hard to have this benefit to be available for them. I do believe they will be very excited to see it comes to true. We, as acupuncture professional organization, strongly support this bill and wish it can be passed as soon as possible , so the people can enjoy the benefits earlier. We also appreciate it what Rep. Chu and her team’s hard work and effort.”


View original press release here

AB918 Education Packet, FAQ & What You Can Do

AB918 Education Packet, FAQ & What You Can Do

Please review the information below and SHOW YOUR SUPPORT:

  1. Download, edit and print this letter.
  2. Sign and either scan to or mail directly to CSOMA at 548 Market Street #62558 San Francisco, CA 94101.

Thank you for supporting this bill!

AB 918 Education Packet

The following materials are provided to legislators to explain the purpose of AB918.

Press Release: AB 918 (Quirk-Silva) Acupuncture Licensure (PDF)
AB918 (Quirk-Silva) Fact Sheet: Acupuncture (PDF)
AB918 Bill Language (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – last updated March 3, 2021
(CSOMA also mailed this 1-page FAQ in late February to all members.)

Does my licensure get grandfathered in to this new NCCAOM requirement?

Many current CA licensees are eligible to apply for NCCAOM certification through a pathway offered directly by the NCCAOM. It requires updating your Clean Needle Technique (CNT) with the CCAOM, submission of other key docs (CA acupuncture license, degree diploma), plus a certification fee.

Details are found here:

Does this new national affiliation now make it possible for me to practice in other states without having to take additional exams?

Acupuncture licensure is specific to each state. Some states require that you pass all of the actual NCCAOM exam modules, other states require only a few modules, and other states require only an NCCAOM certification with no mention of specific tests.

Licensure requirements in each state are found at:

I’m an acupuncturist from out of state, but residing in CA.  I have my NCCAOM certification. If this passes, would I then be able to practice in CA, without taking the CALE?  What is the timeframe?

If/when AB 918 passes into becoming law, there will remain many details to work out through the policies and procedures that guide law change. 

There will likely be an additional exam required for California-specific laws, rules and regulations in addition to passing all of the national exams. The date when national exams were taken could affect eligibility/portability. For example, I believe it was not until 2016 (around then) that an independent auditor found the NCCAOM examinations and the California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE) to be comparable in demonstrating practitioner competency.

If you are already licensed in California will this automatically convert you to an NCCAOM diplomat?

No, AB 918 will not automatically convert currently licensed acupuncturists into NCCAOM diplomats. This bill focuses on allowing new license applicants to take the NCCAOM examination series (plus maybe an additional CA specific module about rules/regs) instead of the CALE.

For currently licensed CA acupuncturists, the NCCAOM is offering a “short” route to become NCCAOM diplomats without taking the NCCAOM exams. (Be mindful that each state has different criteria for licensure, and many require that you take the actual exams, and not just have a diplomat status.)  Please see  

This “short route” opportunity lasts until August 2021, so consider planning ahead to insure your paperwork is in order. Details can be found here.

If you have completed Route 8 for national licensing (as a California licensed acupuncturist), can you then just use your national license to practice acupuncture in California after this bill is passed?

Licensing is specific and unique to each state. Some states only require NCCAOM diplomat status, while others require specific exams. Moreover, each state has different education requirements (hours, topics covered, clinical practicum, etc). There is no “national license,” only national certification, which is only one aspect of gaining a state license.

How does the passing of this bill impact which continuing education requirements need to be fulfilled? Will this be based on which state you are practicing in, as each state has different CEU requirements?

AB 918 currently does not affect CEU requirements for either CA or NCCAOM licensure renewals.

How will the bill, if passed, affect when our renewal is due? The NCCAOM is every four years, California license is every two years.

AB 918 currently does not affect license renewal for either CA or NCCAOM status.

I have already been approved by the NCCAOM. If this bill passes, then will California LAcs still need CEU’s specific to California, or will NCCAOM CEU programs suffice?

AB 918 currently does not affect the structure of state nor national CEU credit requirements.

Does AB 918 get rid of the California Acupuncture Board (CAB) and their jurisdiction on public safety and oversight of CA Licensees? 

No, this bill only replaced the CALE with the NCCAOM exam. The CAB will be able to focus more so on public safety, issuing CA state licenses.

In summary, here’s what AB 918 doesn’t do:

  • AB 918 does not affect currently licensed practitioners.
  • AB 918 does not “open the doors” for people with less education or training to practice in CA.
  • AB 918 does not change any requirements for licensing (other than which exam is required).
  • AB 918 does not affect professional oversight by the California Acupuncture Board (CAB).
  • AB 918 does not change continuing education.
  • AB 918 does not change license renewal fees or CE provider fees.

Q: Will AB 918 help students have greater access to jobs in California and in other states?

Yes, AB 918 is designed to support new acupuncture graduates by updating CA’s license requirements to a new “gold standard” of credentials that includes CA’s high education standards, plus a licensing examination process that grants NCCAOM certification in the process. 

This change would allow a new CA licensee to be automatically credentialed for jobs at the VA, hospitals, etc. and make it easier to practice in other states (since most other states have lower education standards but require NCCAOM certification.)

AB 918 is for the next generation of CA acupuncturists. This change would set-up our new graduates with nationally-recognized credentials so they can practice in any job in CA (hospital, VA, Medicare) and also access licensing in other states with far greater ease. (Note: license requirements vary state-to-state.)

Q: Does AB 918 change education requirements in CA, or any other aspect of license eligibility?.

AB 918 does not affect the current education standards required for licensure in California. California requires 3,000 hours of education, in very specific areas of study (i.e. 950 clinical training hours, clean needle technique, etc). That does not change.

Anyone applying for a CA license still has to meet all the other requirements (fingerprinting, background check, etc.) None of that changes, either.

The California Acupuncture Board (CAB) would still oversee all aspects of licensing and consumer safety, just as it does now.

AB 918 simply allows the California Acupuncture Board to accept the NCCAOM exam instead of the California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE) for the exam requirement of a new license application. 

It is possible that CA would still require a CA-specific exam module (in addition to the four NCCAOM modules) that would cover CA acupuncture rules, regulations, reporting laws and business codes.

Q: How does AB 918 help establish a “national standard” for the acupuncture profession? Why are national standards important?

Demand for acupuncture services is growing quickly – at hospitals, the VA, Medicare, in other integrative medicine centers, etc.

The organizations that create new national healthcare programs want to work with professions that are well-trained, well-organized, and that can prove they provide “consistency of care.” 

Our profession needs to make sure that when new legislation includes “acupuncture benefits” that it also includes something like “services provided by a licensed acupuncturist.” We need to prove why licensed acupuncturists are the safest and best choice to provide acupuncture medicine.

National standards for our practitioners are essential to being included in these discussions. NCCAOM is a respected national standard for our profession that has meaning to legislators and the people who build healthcare programs.

Will AB 918 make it possible for practitioners from other states to gain licensure in California without meeting the other requirements? 

AB 918 will make it easier for CA acupuncturists to go to other states after practicing here because they already will have passed all of the NCCAOM exams.

Practitioners from other states who have fewer didactic or clinical training hours, or who do not meet CA standards in any other aspect would not be eligible for licensure in CA simply because they have NCCAOM certification.

(Keep in mind, each state has its own unique requirements. For example, Nevada requires more education hours than CA, while other states require training on point injection therapy or other interventions specific to the scope of practice within that state.)  

Licensing exams are intended to prove competency for entry into a profession and are meant to be combined with other criteria to create standards. Not long ago, it was a widely perceived that the CALE was far more difficult that the NCCAOM. Fortunately, the NCCAOM worked hard to improve their exam. More specifically:

In 2016, the NCCAOM exam was found to have “parity” to the California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE) through an independent audit conducted by the CA Department of Consumer Affairs. Even the California Acupuncture Board (CAB) made a recommendation at that point to adopt the NCCAOM exam modules (plus add a 5th module that is CA-focused) for people to get licensed in CA. Visit

CSOMA will continue updating this FAQ. Please direct any questions to

Acupuncture Legislation Introduced: AB-918 Quirk-Silva

Acupuncture Legislation Introduced: AB-918 Quirk-Silva

Contact: David Quackenbush 




SACRAMENTO, FEBRUARY 18, 2021​ ​ ​– ​Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva​ ​(D – Fullerton) and​ ​the California State Oriental Medicine Association (CSOMA) introduced the first bill in California to ensure a nationally recognized standard for the delivery of acupuncture medicine throughout the state. The bill would allow a prospective acupuncturist to take the national examination to qualify for national certification and California state licensure enabling acupuncturists to take one exam, save money and secure enhanced portability of their credentials across the nation for greater employment opportunities. 

As a teacher for thirty years and a member of the Assembly Committee on Education, the Assemblywoman provides a unique and experienced perspective to the issue. Additionally, with one of the largest Acupuncture schools, the most students and practicing Acupuncturists in her district, this bill will directly support students and small businesses in her district. 

“Acupuncture is an essential health benefit in California,” said Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva. “New graduates ready to expand access to this important medicine should have the ability to take one nationally recognized exam to open a wide range of jobs to them while not going into additional student debt to pay fees for multiple exams.” 

AB 918 requires that CA acupuncture license applicants pass the national certification examinations administered by the NCCAOM and used for acupuncture licensure and certification in 47 states plus the District of Columbia (representing 98% of all states that regulate acupuncture). 

“National certification is vital to continue to support our profession and public safety,” said CSOMA President Dr. Nell Smircina. “National certification will continue to elevate acupuncture in California’s health care delivery system creating additional access for the thousands of individuals requesting this essential medicine.” 

To learn more about how to support the bill join the CSOMA Legislative Town Hall on March 16th. Register today at csomaonline.orgor at 

CSOMA is a professional association of licensed acupuncturists and supporters of acupuncture, dedicated to the preservation, advancement and integration of the art, science, and practice of all branches of acupuncture medicine into the modern healthcare model, in a caring and ethical manner, thereby enhancing the health and well-being of the general public.​For more information about CSOMA, please contact Ra Adcock, Executive Director, at​ ​or visit us at​ 


Acupuncture Advocacy Town Hall

Acupuncture Advocacy Town Hall

On November 10, 2020, CSOMA hosted its Acupuncture Advocacy Town Hall with the ASA and NCCAOM, along with lobbyist David Quackenbush.

Watch the replay here

Review the three main agenda items here: CSOMA Advocacy Agenda 2021

Learn about THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING AN ADVOCATE – an interview with David Quackenbush featured in the latest issue of JAIM.

Please share these resources with your colleagues and with supporters of acupuncture medicine.

Thanks to all who attended and participated in this important event!


Public Comment on Medicare Payment Policies under the Physician Fee Schedule

Public Comment on Medicare Payment Policies under the Physician Fee Schedule

CSOMA has submitted a Public Comment regarding proposed changes in the 2021 CMS Fee schedule for CPT codes 97810-97814.

In summary, the proposed changes devalue acupuncture treatments to the point where it may not be financially feasible for Licensed Acupuncturists to serve Medicare beneficiaries and other insurance patients.

Page 286 of the Federal Register lists the proposed rule changes, stating:

“…That the RVUs for the acupuncture codes were based on a pair of crosswalks to two recently reviewed codes in the Dry Needling family…Due to the similar clinical nature of these services and their nearly identical work times, we believe that it is more accurate to propose cross walking CPT codes 97810 through 97814 to the work RVUs of the Dry Needling codes, which were finalized last year, as opposed to proposing work RVUs from 2004, which were never reviewed by CMS.”

The CMS is accepting public comments until October 5, 2020, by 5:00 PM. We encourage ALL practitioners and supporters of acupuncture to submit a public comment. Acupuncturists who do not accept insurance should also be encouraged to comment because this change will have an impact on our profession.


Please visit the ASA’s Public Comment on CY 2021 Payment Policies under the Physician Fee Schedule and follow the instructions for submitting public comment on this important issue.

CSOMA’s Public Comment on CY 2021 Payment Policies under PFS

Rep. Chu Introduces Acupuncture for Seniors Act of 2021

CSOMA Hires Sacramento Lobbyist David Quackenbush

SAN FRANCISCO, August 26, 2020 – CSOMA is pleased to announce the hiring of Sacramento Lobbyist David Quackenbush to begin lobbying efforts immediately.

CSOMA’s Public Policy and Executive Committees chose Mr. Quackenbush for his experience with non-profit corporations and his unique skill set to push for legislative equality for the acupuncture profession in California and nationally.

Sarah Hart, LAc, CSOMA Board Director and Public Policy Committee Co-Chair, was instrumental in bringing Quackenbush on board. “Our committee gets a lot done,” she stated, “and Mr. Quackenbush is going to give us the presence we need in Sacramento to make a bigger impact.”

David Quackenbush brings 20 years of advocacy work in the nonprofit health sector. He is also a Governor appointee serving both the Governor Brown and Governor Schwarzenegger administrations.

“Legislative change is a process,” stated Quackenbush. “Having a consistent presence in Sacramento is key to building collaborative partnerships to integrate this important medicine into the health care delivery system creating access for the diverse communities throughout California. CSOMA is prepared to work together with all stakeholders to make progress and that makes us a good match.”

“Significant growth in CSOMA’s membership is essential to supporting policy work with Mr. Quackenbush,” remarked CSOMA president Dr. Nell Smircina, DAOM, LAc. “We need that vision and skillset, and we also need the sheer membership numbers to show that our profession is engaged and working in unison,” she continued. “‘Together we are stronger’ has never been more true. This will be a test of sorts to see how committed and unified our profession really is.”

About David Quackenbush

David Quackenbush is a lobbyist and consultant with over 20 years of a successful track record advocating for health care insurance coverage and access for low-income communities throughout California including health care reform and state and local public and private insurance programs. David has led multiple companies through reorganizations resulting in expanded resources and staff capacity to fulfill their missions.  In 2013, David launched his own consulting group, Quackenbush & Company, to assist organizations to maximize participation and success in the newly reformed managed health care delivery system through the Affordable Care Act and Medi-Cal expansion. 

David’s clients are passionate, mission-driven health care providers that strive for equitable access to primary care services for all individuals and families.  David is a lifelong resident of Sacramento, California.


CSOMA is a professional association of licensed acupuncturists and supporters of acupuncture, dedicated to the preservation, advancement and integration of the art, science, and practice of all branches of acupuncture medicine into the modern healthcare model, in a caring and ethical manner, thereby enhancing the health and well-being of the general public. 

For more information about CSOMA, please contact Ra Adcock, Executive Director, at or visit us at


Rep. Chu Introduces Acupuncture for Seniors Act of 2021

CSOMA Board of Directors Votes Unanimously to Change Corporate Name

SAN FRANCISCO, July 20, 2020 – CSOMA is changing its corporate name to remove the term “Oriental.”

The California State Oriental Medical Association (CSOMA) is pleased to announce that their Board of Directors voted unanimously at a 7/19/20 meeting to change the corporation’s name to remove the word “Oriental.”

CSOMA President Dr. Nell Smircina, DAOM, LAc, states, “This is a critical time where members are looking to our Board of Directors for leadership, and with that, the ability to grow and evolve. Particularly in times of change we all need to say, ‘What can I personally do?’ This was something tangible we could do.”

President Obama signed HR4238 into law in 2016, which eliminates the term “Oriental” from federal law text. CSOMA Executive Director Dr. Ra Adcock, DACM, LAc, shared, “Since that time, CSOMA took initial steps to remove the term ‘Oriental’ from our members communications, public policy texts, publications and more.”

In 2017, CSOMA rebranded its 20 year-old publication from the California Journal of Oriental Medicine (CJOM) to the Journal of Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine (JAIM). Dr. Adcock added, “We’re excited to rename the corporation, in its entirety, to better respect and represent the diverse group of practitioners, students and corporate partners that create our fast-growing membership.”

CSOMA’s Board of Directors anticipate a 3-6 month timeline for the completion of the change.

CSOMA is a professional association of licensed acupuncturists and supporters of acupuncture, dedicated to the preservation, advancement and integration of the art, science, and practice of all branches of acupuncture medicine into the modern healthcare model, in a caring and ethical manner, thereby enhancing the health and well-being of the general public.

For more information about CSOMA, please contact Ra Adcock, Executive Director, at or visit us at

View the PDF


Acupuncture Legislation Introduced: AB-918 Quirk-Silva

CSOMA Requests CDPH to List Acupuncturists as Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers

SAN FRANCISCO, July 21, 2020 – CSOMA sent an open letter to Dr. Sonia Angell, Director & State Public Health Officer of the California Department of Public Health. The letter requests that the CDPH lists Licensed Acupuncturists (L.Ac.’s) as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” noting that Licensed Acupuncturists provide necessary care for pain, PTSD, anxiety, and stress relief. The letter emphasizes the critical role licensed acupuncturists play in combatting the opioid epidemic by providing non-pharmacological pain relief to Californians, while following CDC infection control guidelines. Read the letter here (PDF).


Athletic Bill AB1592 CAB Letter

Athletic Bill AB1592 CAB Letter

June 20th, 2020
Assemblymember Rob Bonta
1303 Tenth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Assemblymember Rob Bonta,

The California State Oriental Medical Association (CSOMA), is writing to inform you of our concerns and objections to the Athletic Trainers Bill (AB 1592 & AB 1665), as amended in assembly January 14, 2020.

Our first objection is to the omission of the practice of Acupuncture in section 2697.14 which outlines the exclusions of practice to Athletic Trainers in the state of California. We believe this permits the proposed Athletic Training Practice Act to permit, at a later date and through future amendment, the practice of Acupuncture by Athletic Trainers of California under the guise of “Dry Needling” techniques.

Our second objection is in regards to the wording of section 2697.12 (a) which outlines the Scope of Practice for Athletic Trainers. Within these sections 2697.12(a)(3) and 2697.12(a)(4) states that an Athletic Trainer can provide “immediate care of an injury ” and “rehabilitation and reconditioning from an injury sustained or exacerbated while participating in athletic activity…. ”

CSOMA believes that along with the previous stated omission of the Practice of Acupuncture in the exclusion section of the Bill AB1592, 2697.12a Scope of Practice section will permit Athletic Trainers to practice Acupuncture directly on patients without referral to a Licensed Acupuncturist.

Our third objection regards the section of the proposed amended bill 2697.12 (d)

(d) An athletic trainer shall not provide, offer to provide, or represent that they are qualified to provide any treatment that they are not qualified to perform by their professional education or advanced post professional study or does not fall within the scope of practice of athletic training.

CSOMA strongly believes that this section does not go far enough to protect the safe practice of Acupuncture in California. With the aforementioned exclusion of the Practice of Acupuncture in the section 2697.14, we believe this current wording will permit the future practice of Acupuncture by Athletic Trainers.

CSOMA strongly objects to AB 1592 as currently written and amended on January 14, 2020, as it represents a potential public safety danger to Californians by persons practicing Acupuncture (aka Dry Needling), which are grossly under-trained to administer Acupuncture safely and effectively. As you know, Licensed Acupuncturists are required to spend up to 950 hours of direct and supervised training under accredited educational programs for the safe and effective administration of Acupuncture to patients.

CSOMA is requesting that you strongly consider objecting the current wording and omissions contained within AB 1592 and AB1665 on the basis of the lack of protections to the public safety in regard to the Licensed Practice of Acupuncture in California. In addition, CSOMA is requesting that “Acupuncture” be included under section 2697.14 which outlines the exclusions of practice to Athletic Trainers in the state of California.

Thank you again for your important work at this critical time.

Nell Smircina
CSOMA President

Ra Adcock
CSOMA Executive Director

View the PDF


Advocacy & Legislation