On Nov. 6, 2008, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger convened an emergency session of the California legislature in an attempt to address a worsening budget crisis in the state.
Schwarzenegger proposed $4.7 billion in new taxes, including $4.5 billion in new cuts, to prevent a cash crisis brought on by a projected $11.2 billion hole in the current state budget. The governor's proposed cuts to various Health and Human Services programs total $970 million for the current budget year and may include additional cuts for the 2009-2010 budget year.
"We have drastic problems that require drastic and immediate action. We must stop the bleeding right now," Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement provided to the press.
For the second time this year, the governor has proposed eliminating all state Medicaid (Medi-Cal) "optional benefits." These are benefits not required by the federal Medicaid program and include acupuncture, adult dental, audiology, optometry, optical, chiropractic, podiatry, psychology and speech therapy services. Collectively, these programs represent less than 3 percent of the proposed $4.5 billion in cuts to this year's budget.
If adopted by the legislature, the governor's spending reductions would completely eliminate acupuncture from Medi-Cal benefits. In addition, the governor has proposed requiring that adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries with annual incomes are between 72 percent and 100 percent of the federal poverty level pay for a portion of their Medi-Cal coverage.
Legislative leaders expressed doubt, however, that an agreement would be reached on the state budget. Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) indicated that cuts to Health and Human Services programs were "a non-starter."
CCAOM Backs Move to Entry-Level Doctorate
As discussed in this issue of AT ("Understanding ACAOM Draft Doctoral Standards," beginning on the front page), the Accreditation Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) has been engaged in a national process to address the issue of entry-level doctorate for AOM education. The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) has now both endorsed the ACAOM direction and stepped in to help with consensus building. The CCAOM makes a special point of pledging to support its smaller members, which are likely to have more difficulty in meeting the higher standards. The transition is expected to take at least five to 10 years.
Motion No. 1: The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine supports the offering of first-professional doctoral education in Oriental medicine and in acupuncture with appropriate standards of accreditation. The Council will continue to review and forward to the ACAOM recommendations regarding ACAOM's draft of first-professional doctoral standards. The Council affirms its commitment to providing resources and support to its members during this period. The Entry-Level Standards Committee and the Core Curriculum Committee will take the lead on this, with support from the Faculty Development Committee, the Research Information Committee, and the Libraries Committee. The Council will initiate a dialogue toward building consensus with members of the profession regarding issues of the first-professional doctorate and its implications for the profession of AOM.
Motion No. 2: The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine requests that ACAOM renew its review of the first-professional doctoral standards. Note: The move toward the entry-level or first-professional doctorate is distinct from the existing Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) programs, currently accredited through ACAOM standards. These clinical doctorates were introduced in the last half-decade by a half-dozen schools.
Taking a page from the successful unification of the national acupuncture and Oriental medicine organizations, the two associations that represent acupuncturists in Oregon, the Oregon Acupuncture Association (OAA) and the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Society of Oregon (AOMSO), finalized their unification on Sept. 14, 2008. Members of both associations worked together for months to prepare new bylaws and establish goals for the new organization, which will now operate as the Oregon Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (OAAOM).
The OAAOM will represent the interests of practitioners of Oriental medicine in the state of Oregon and at the national level. Members have elected an interim Board of Directors to serve until the association's annual meeting in the spring of 2009. Licensed acupuncturists in Oregon and all other individuals who wish to obtain more information or would like to join the OAAOM may contact the organization by e-mail at
PCOM ProvideS Care at Public Health Conference
Interns from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) college clinic in San Diego, along with Greg Sperber, DAOM, and PCOM Vice President Stacy Gomes, provided treatments for attendees at the American Public Health Association conference, held in San Diego, Oct. 25-29, 2008. The interns used the NADA protocol and treated approximately 100 patients each day. Most of the people who were treated were completely new to the practice of acupuncture and the benefits it provides. One comment from a recipient was that she received the treatment just before she presented her speech to conference attendees, and that she felt much more relaxed and in charge of the situation.
Back to Community-Style Acupuncture
In other PCOM news, the college has redesigned its community clinic to reflect the original community-style acupuncture model. The new community clinic will be offered every Friday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., with treatments offered at $15 apiece.
In addition to being less expensive and time consuming, the clinic visits are less comprehensive, according to the college. Each visit will focus solely on one symptom of the patient. The goal of these treatments is to relieve symptoms of one major condition at a time. Acupuncture will be the only method used during this clinic time. Massages, stretches and cupping services can be accessed through the clinic during other appointments.