Governor Newsom Upholds Acupuncture Benefits in Medi-Cal Amid Budget Cuts

Governor Newsom Upholds Acupuncture Benefits in Medi-Cal Amid Budget Cuts

Sacramento, CA – June 24, 2024 — Governor Gavin Newsom has retracted the proposed budget cuts to the Medi-Cal acupuncture program for low-income Californians for the 2024-2025 budget year. This decision marks a significant victory for healthcare providers and advocates who have long championed acupuncture as a vital component of comprehensive medical care.

The initial proposal would have eliminated much-needed acupuncture benefits for millions of low-income beneficiaries. The governor faced substantial pushback from the acupuncture community, Medi-Cal beneficiaries, and legislators in both the state Senate and Assembly.

Acupuncture was legalized in California in 1976 and has been an integral part of Medi-Cal healthcare since 1989. Its inclusion in the program reflects the growing acceptance and efficacy of acupuncture in treating various ailments, from chronic pain to mental health disorders. Over the decades, numerous studies have validated the therapeutic benefits of acupuncture, leading to its greater integration into mainstream medical practice.

However, this is not the first time acupuncture benefits have been threatened with cuts in the Medi-Cal program. Acupuncture was removed from Medi-Cal in 2009 but was successfully reinstated in 2016 thanks to persistent advocacy from the acupuncture community, notably spearheaded by the American Association of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture (AACMA). This effort also garnered crucial support from Assembly members Phil Ting, Rob Bonta, and David Chiu back then.

The preservation of acupuncture benefits in Medi-Cal this time is largely credited to collaborative efforts among the acupuncture community, key legislators, and Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

The six association members of the California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC) have played a vital role in the effort to save Medi-Cal acupuncture services. The leaders of the American Association of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture (AACMA) have been instrumental in communicating with key legislators, convening stakeholders for budget cuts hearings, and mobilizing the public to voice opposition to the governor’s plan. The leaders of the American Korean Acupuncture Medical Association of California (AKAMAC) and the California State Oriental Medical Association (CSOMA) have been essential in contacting budget committee members, initiating and promoting online petitions against budget cuts. The leaders of the American Society of Chinese Medicine (ASCM), the Japanese Acupuncture Association of California (JAAC), and the California Acupuncture United Association (CAUA) have made significant contributions to conveying our opposition to budget committee members. Additionally, teachers and students from acupuncture schools across California, including the Academy of Chinese Culture & Sciences, the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine School, Alhambra Medical University, California University-Silicon Valley, Dongguk University Los Angeles, and Five Branch University, joined the effort. Furthermore, medical facilities such as North East Medical Services (NEMS) and Chinese Hospital voiced their opposition on behalf of the beneficiaries they serve.

The unified support of legislators like Senator Scott Weiner, Assemblymember Evan Low, Assemblymember Phil Ting, and Assemblymember Alex Lee has directly impacted the positive outcome of the budget cuts on acupuncture. Additionally, the opposition from Medi-Cal beneficiaries has underscored the importance of preserving acupuncture services.

The California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC) extends gratitude to Governor Newsom for preserving acupuncture services in the Medi-Cal program and thanks everyone for their contributions to this achievement.

Heartfelt gratitude and applause are extended by the California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC) to Senator Scott Wiener, Senator Caroline Menjivar, and the leaders of the California Asian American and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus (AAPILC), including Assemblymember Evan Low, Assemblymember Phil Ting, and Assemblymember Alex Lee, for their advocacy on behalf of the acupuncture community and response to the needs of low-income beneficiaries.

The California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC) commends the exemplary leadership of AACMA President Dr. Chulong Xue, Vice President Dr. Lin Yang, AKAMAC President Dr. Bon Cho, CSOMA President Tiffany Tufftee, L.Ac, and Executive Director Dr. Ra Adcock. Commendation also extends to Dr. Victoria Ru Tuan and Dr. Daisy Hong Liu from ASCM, JAAC President Dr. Saori Minota and Vice President Nobuko Ide, Dr. Sun Lee from AAAMA, Dr. Jane Li and Dr. Kexin Bao from CAUA, Marilyn Allen, Director from AAC Insurance Group, Jessica Ho from NEMS for their significant effort and support.

Furthermore, the California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC) strongly encourages acupuncture students and practitioners to join acupuncture associations to further promote this essential branch of medicine.

About The California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC):

The California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC) serves as a platform for California acupuncture associations to unite their voices and collaborate on acupuncture legislation. Comprising six acupuncture associations in the state, including the American Korean Acupuncture Medical Association of California (AKAMAC), the American Association of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture (AACMA), the California State Oriental Medical Association (CSOMA), the American Society of Chinese Medicine (ASCM), the Japanese Acupuncture Association of California (JAAC), and the California Acupuncture United Association (CAUA), this coalition has a history of working together on legislative issues. After a period of dormancy, it now officially resumes its mission to stand united in advancing acupuncture as a vital component of healthcare in California and to work on legislative initiatives within the state.

About the Author: 

  1. Tiffany Tuftee, L.Ac., serves as the President of CSOMA. A steadfast advocate for East Asian Medicine, she is deeply committed to advancing the practice of acupuncture in California. Her initiatives focus on creating job opportunities, enhancing sustainability within the profession, and educating allied healthcare practitioners on the essential role acupuncture plays in modern healthcare. Under her leadership, CSOMA is dedicated to ensuring that acupuncture remains a vital component of the state’s healthcare system, promoting comprehensive and holistic patient care. Contact email:
  2. Dr. Lin Yang, California Licensed Acupuncturist, instructor, Vice President of AACMA, decade long volunteer of AACMA. Contact email:


California Acupuncture Day

California Acupuncture Day

“California Acupuncture Day” celebration conference held grandly

The American Association of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture and Evan Low, a state representative representing Silicon Valley, held a celebration meeting at Cupertino Community Hall from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 22 to celebrate the passage of AR48 Resolution by the California State Government. The sponsor of the California Acupuncture Day Resolution is Congressman Rodalan, and the main sponsor is the American Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The case confirms July 12 as California Acupuncture Day, which was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown before 1975 to legalize California acupuncture.

In the afternoon of the same day, California Finance Minister Fiona Ma, State Representative Evan Low, Alex Lee, Cupertino Deputy Mayor Sheila Mohan, City Councillor Liang Chao, Palo Alto Mayor Lydia Kou, Saratooga Deputy Mayor Yan Zhao and others attended the conference to congratulate.

Leaders and representatives of the American Chinese Culture and Medical University, the California Five Departments of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Medical University, the International University of Medicine, the University of California Silicon Valley, the American Chinese Medical Association, the American Korean Acupuncture Association AKAMAC, CalATMA, CAOMA, CAUA, CSOMA and other co-organizers came from all parts of

The celebration was co-chaired by Li Ying, vice president of the American Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and James Wang, an assistant to Congressman Luo. Representative Rodalen, Representative Li Tianming and Finance Minister Ma Shiyun delivered enthusiastic greetings respectively. They highly praised the achievements of Mr. Brown, the former governor, and spoke highly of the milestone significance of the establishment of “California Acupuncture Day”, which will have a positive and far-reaching impact on the development of acupuncture in California. At the same time, they strongly commended the important contributions made by the California acupuncture industry to promoting public health care. Huang Xiansheng, Honorary President of the American Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine, delivered a speech on behalf of the chairman and co-organizers. He thanked Senator Luo for proposing the establishment of “California Acupuncture Day” to vigorously promote acupuncture; thanked the dignitaries for taking time out of their busy schedules to congratulate them; thanked the co

Subsequently, Congressman Luo presented the resolution to the leader of the California acupuncture community, which was received by the representative of President Huang Xiansheng. Senator Li will give the commendation to the leaders of the co-organizers. Senator Luo, Senator Li and Finance Minister Ma took a group photo with the dignitaries and leaders of the co-organizers who were at the meeting. Several mayors, deputy mayors and councillors also delivered congratulations and congratulatory certificates.

Before the celebration, a lecture on traditional Chinese medicine health was held, and professors from California’s five departments of traditional Chinese medicine and the University of California Silicon Valley gave speeches. After the award ceremony, large-scale acupuncture and medical treatment and Taiji performances were also held on the spot.

Nearly 300 dignitaries, elected officials, leaders and representatives of traditional Chinese medicine organizations, teachers and students of traditional Chinese medicine schools, and the community attended the celebration meeting on that day. The event was unprecedented and spread as a good story for a while, setting off another round of “acupuncture fever” in California.

Contributed by the Secretariat of the American Society of Traditional Chinese Medicine

October 22, 2023 (October 22)

California Acupuncture Day

CSOMA Supports Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act of 2023

On May 9, Reps. Chu, Fitzpatrick Introduce Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act of 2023.

This bill would increase Medicare beneficiaries’ access to acupuncturists, provide more non-pharmacological options for pain relief, and promote the profession’s growth.

“Our seniors deserve affordable access to non-pharmacological pain relief provided by acupuncturists and billed through Medicare,” said Sarah Hart, L.Ac., California State Oriental Medicine Association (CSOMA) President. “CSOMA fully supports expanding access to acupuncture within the healthcare delivery system and thanks Reps. Judy Chu and Brian Fitzpatrick for introducing the Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act.”

CMS already recognizes the value of acupuncture and began covering services in January 2020. Unfortunately, because acupuncturists do not have Medicare-provider status, they cannot provide these covered services to beneficiaries without supervision. The status quo disrupts the acupuncture service-delivery model, as they cannot independently provide services to Medicare beneficiaries, despite their ability to do so for non-Medicare beneficiaries. The resulting access barrier hurts Senior Citizens and exacerbates healthcare inefficiencies. (Excerpt from the ASA/NCCAOM press release.)

Read the full press release from Congresswoman Judy Chu here.

Read the ASA/NCCAOM press release here.


California Acupuncture Day

CSOMA Opposes AB765

Updated 4/4/23:

CSOMA legislation news on AB 765

To our members who are awaiting a response regarding AB 765 and next steps. CSOMA is working diligently with allied health care professionals, and acupuncture state associations in California for clarification and updates on the AB 765 bill as written.

Currently the bill has been opposed as written by numerous professional associations, as there is uncertainty if the bill as written would strip the Dr. title from other professionals such as Doctor of Acupuncture, Doctor of Dentistry, Doctor of Chiropractic etc.
Here is what we know:
1. Opposition for AB 765 as written letter was sent on behalf of CSOMA members to Business and Professions Committee. (see below)
2. AB 765_fact sheet from Representative Wood’s office
3. Discussion amongst CA Stakeholders on call to action campaign, next steps ongoing
4. News from Legislator Wood’s office that “The bill makes no changes to other practice acts and other licensed practitioners’ ability to use the title Dr as long as it is done consistent with existing requirements. Meaning if I am an optometrist I can use the title Dr so long as it is clear I am an O.D., i.e. Dr. Snow, OD. The committee consultant is proposing language that makes it perfectly clear that nothing in section (a) changes existing law for other practitioners.” (From email of Liz Snow, Chief of Staff)
5. April 11th is a hearing for this bill with public comment.
6. Members: Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn for more, and to find out how you can support our grass roots efforts. Become a member to help CSOMA support you on these major issues affecting the profession in CA.

Original post:

The following opposition statement was submitted via Business and Professions Committee online portal on March 27, 2023:

Dear Business and Professions Committee,

CSOMA Opposes AB765.

CSOMA is a professional association representing acupuncturists including acupuncturists with doctorate degrees from accredited doctorate programs. CSOMA supports protecting the public from false advertising and misrepresentation of medical professional’s qualifications. However, AB765 as written does not make it clear that acupuncturists can continue to use the title “Dr.” followed by the type of acupuncture doctorate degree. Acupuncturists with doctoral degrees are authorized to use the title “Dr.” alongside their license or degree title in the following statutes:

Article 2. Certification Requirements (Article 2 added by Stats. 1980 ch. 1313, § 11.5)
§ 4936. Use of “Doctor” or “Dr.”
(a) It is unprofessional conduct for an acupuncturist to use the title “Doctor” or the abbreviation “Dr.” in connection with the practice of acupuncture unless he or she possesses a license that authorizes the use or possesses an earned doctorate degree from an accredited, approved, or authorized educational institution as set forth under Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 94800) of Part 59 of Division 10 of Title 3 of the Education Code, which is in acupuncture, oriental medicine, a biological science, or is otherwise related to the authorized practice of an acupuncturist as set forth in Sections 4927 and 4937.
(b) The use of the title “Doctor” or the abbreviation “Dr.” by an acupuncturist as authorized in subdivision (a) without further indicating the type of license or degree which authorizes that use shall constitute unprofessional conduct.
(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 326, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2013.)

Please amend AB765 to clarify that other professions, as authorized in state statutes, may continue to use the title “Dr.” followed by their license or degree type.

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

Rep. Chu Introduces Acupuncture for Seniors Act of 2021

CSOMA Welcomes New Student Members from Southern California University of Health Sciences

SAN FRANCISCO, April 28, 2021 – CSOMA is pleased to welcome over fifty new student members from Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCUHS).

The new partnership bolsters CSOMA’s student membership numbers, which comprises the association’s second largest membership group, after licensed professional members. The alliance also strengthens ties between CSOMA and TCM schools like SCUHS through a shared vision of expanding employment opportunities for newly licensed practitioners.

“Southern California University of Health Sciences is a shining example of student advocacy in action,” remarked Dr. Nell Smircina, DAOM, LAc., CSOMA president. “By collectively joining the association at this time, SCUHS students are showing their support of CSOMA’s advocacy work and their commitment to being involved in a larger vision for this growing profession.” 

Earlier this year, CSOMA introduced AB 918, the first bill in California to ensure a nationally recognized standard for the delivery of acupuncture medicine throughout the state. A major tenet of the bill included the option for a prospective acupuncturist to take the national examination to qualify for national certification and California state licensure. AB 918 aims to secure enhanced portability of acupuncture credentials across the nation for greater employment opportunities.

Jenny Yu, Dean of SCUHS Eastern Medicine Department commented, “We are delighted to provide this student membership opportunity with CSOMA for our Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (DACM) program students.”

SCUHS offers a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (DACM) program in which students are awarded both the DACM and the Master of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (MACM) degree that is required to sit for State and National licensing and certification exams. DACM students learn from, with, and about other professions such as chiropractors and physician assistants to prepare for future careers in collaborative and team-based settings.

“Excellence in healthcare begins with excellence in education,” Yu continued. “The collaboration between SCUHS and CSOMA allows our DACM students an early glance into the professional field. Today’s student members will become tomorrow’s professional members, and we look forward to our continued collaboration to better prepare our students in serving their future profession and professional organization.”

About Southern California University of Health Sciences

Founded in 1911, Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCUHS) has been a leader in educating students to be competent, caring, and successful integrative healthcare practitioners and professionals in today’s healthcare delivery system. For more information about SCUHS, visit


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


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​ 


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

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Tag: press releases