Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Alert ─ California’s State Bill 628 Must Not Pass

According to Senator Leland Yee’s website, “Since 2003, Dr. Yee has one of the best track records in getting his bills passed and signed into law. In fact, he has successfully passed 133 pieces of legislation, of which 100 have been chaptered into law.” With a track record like that, he would be the person to go to to call in a political favor. California State Bill 628 just may be that favor.
While the stated topic is Acupuncture Regulation, the bill is actually aimed at TCM traumatologists, a field that has nothing to do with the specialty of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Because all acupuncture laws are already in place, and the bill’s actual stipulated topic is traumatologists, the bill’s topic should be TCM Traumatologist Regulation, which would be far less misleading.
How will this bill benefit California residents if it is allowed to pass without including any set standards for traumatologists? One benefit for the TCM traumatologists committee is that the bill places jurisdiction under the California Acupuncture Board (CAB). That means required money including debts related to TCM traumatologists can be paid by the CAB. This is hardly fair to acupuncturists who have nothing to do with this new field, yet are expected to pay TCM traumatologists’ unspecified expenses. The committee deciding on a job description and regulations will be formed in March 2012, and a short two months later the board shall start issuing certificates to the applicants that they see as fit. To go a step further, the committee could decide to base the traumatologists’ job description and regulations solely on a certain applicant’s resume since two months worth of applications would have been collected before the committee ever even meets.
Most people will not know the time frame open to apply (January to December 2012) and will miss the opportunity to become certified as TCM traumatologists; however, the opportunity to become certified is long enough for a special interest group to send in a person with a plan against alternative health care to become certified. This person will be functioning under the CAB’s jurisdiction; therefore, any incident could potentially ruin acupuncture’s reputation in California.
Although a job description is lacking, the monies related to TCM traumatologists certification is spelled out thoroughly. Applicants originally only had to pay $75. Now it’s been changed to $200. Those who fail to renew their certificate after five years will have three years to renew before they risk losing their certificate. Of course, a delinquency fine of $25 and the renewal fee must be paid in order to reinstate certification. Aside from the applicant being eighteen years of age and the monies involved being clearly stated, why are the time frame and physicians to be on the committee the only two clear stipulations made for the whole bill when an explanation of what TCM traumatologists do is absent?
One wonders about the motivation behind this bill. Basically, after this bill passes, a committee can make up the rules to make this bill anything they want. Further, there are inconsistencies, like requesting an annual renewal fee. Previously written into the bill, renewal was set at every five years, not annually. The renewal cost used to be $75 and now that’s been crossed out changed to $100. There’s no word about a refund for those who are not issued a certificate although applying to be a TCM traumatologist. The bill contradicts itself by saying that one can only apply for a certificate in 2012, yet in section 4967, it states, “A person who fails to renew his or her license or certificate within three years after its expiration may not renew it, and it may not be restored, reissued, or reinstated thereafter, but that person may apply for and obtain a new license or certificate if he or she meets all of the following requirements.” New licenses supposedly are not to be given out after December 15, 2012, yet you can “obtain a new license.”
In section 4967(d) of SB 628, it states, “The board may provide for the waiver or refund of all or any part of an examination fee in those cases in which a license to practice acupuncture is issued without an examination pursuant to this section.” TCM traumatologists are not mentioned at all. Regulations around acupuncture testing are already in place. Furthermore, no one is permitted to practice acupuncture without a license except interns within a school setting under the watchful eye of a licensed acupuncturist who is also a teacher. A license is only given after an exam is passed. Two places referring to a written examination for TCM traumatologists have been crossed out of the bill. There’s no affiliation between the two professions. SB 628 discusses acupuncturists and TCM traumatologists separately the whole way through.
How is 4967(d) connected to TCM traumatologists? Yee may as well have written, “Drivers must drive thirty-five in a thirty-five mile per hour zone.” It’s already a law and not connected to TCM traumatologists in any discernable way. Each section is filled with a lot of writing and still doesn’t clarify the job description of a TCM traumatologist. A big question arises, why bring up acupuncturists at all when the bill relates only to TCM traumatologists specifically? Acupuncturists already have rules, regulations, and laws governing their actions in detail. This bill should leave them out of it. Most likely the only reason Yee is mentioning acupuncturists is to make readers of the bill believe in an affiliation between the two professions when none exists.
One has to ask who benefits from the passing of SB 628, especially when there are no educational or certification standards in place. Senator Leland Yee allegedly thought this bill up by himself, working without any special interest group’s influence. This should be easy enough to find out. If interested, we could look up campaign donors to Senator Yee and see if this group is listed, or wait until SB628 passes and see if a donor ends up on the committee.
The California Assembly Committee on Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection will be presented with this bill on July 5, 2011.


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