One person really can make a difference. I know that sometimes our readers are more concerned with what is happening on a national level and do not want to read about events that are happening within any single state.However, the most recent turn of events involving acupuncturists in California truly demonstrates the power of one person's intent to achieve a goal, even against all odds and other groups within the profession.
The chain of events I am about to relate to you started almost a year ago. Last October, a law was passed in California that changed the term "Oriental" in "Oriental medicine" to "Asian" (A.B.1117, sponsored by Assemblyman Leland Yee). The bill and its terminology moved through the California legislature without much debate because it was politically correct to change the wording.
Now let's move forward to this year. The scope-of-practice section of the acupuncture laws in California (Section 4937 of the California Business and Professions Code) gives licensed acupuncturists the right to perform or prescribe Asian massage. One person, Neal Miller, LAc, the president of Acupuncture and Integrated Medicine Specialists (AIMS), saw the need to identify the term "Asian massage." This term needed to be clearly defined for both the providers and the insurance industry in order to help reimburse patients and providers.
Note: For more information on this legislation, please read "A.B.3014 Awaits Governor's Signature; Opposition to Bill Now 'Neutral'" in this issue, and "A.B.3014 Moving Forward in Calif. Legislature," which appeared in the August 2006 issue.
One person realized the necessity of this definition and went to work. He found an author in Assemblyman Paul Koretz and practically lobbied each member on a one-on-one basis. He worked against powerful lobbies, some within the acupuncture profession, to send the bill to the governor after it passed through both the Assembly and the Senate. One person made a difference. By educating the senators and assembly members about acupuncture, Neal Miller helped the California state legislature begin to move this profession forward.
You say to yourself: Good for Neal, but I'm too busy. This year, it is important that you consider the power of one - you. Ask yourself: Who do I know in the political arena? You must remember that the people who run for office usually start at the local level (city councils, school boards, and so on) and then move on to state and federal offices. The state legislators are the people who pass the laws that regulate your practices. Now is the time to ask yourself: Who is running for office - local, state and federal - in my area?
The Los Angeles Times published an article on Aug. 31, 2006, titled, "Checks Roll in as Laws Flow Out," in which the names of the contributing entities and the amount of money given to legislators each year were listed. After carefully reading the article, I realized that the acupuncture profession does not make contributions. If this profession does not contribute money, how can acupuncturists make an impact in the political process? You - the power of one - can make a difference. Contact the local offices of the candidates for election, volunteer, stuff and seal mailers, post a sign in your yard, or phone voters to "get out and vote" on behalf of a candidate you support.
Just remember: One person can make a difference.
Click here for more information about Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large.