Acupuncture Board History
The Board of Medical Examiners (now called the Medical Board of California) began regulating acupuncture in 1972 under provisions that authorized the practice of acupuncture under the supervision of a licensed physician as part of acupuncture research in medical schools.
In 1975, Senate Bill 86 (Chapter 267, Statutes of 1975) created the Acupuncture Advisory Committee under the Board of Medical Examiners and allowed the practice of acupuncture but only upon a prior diagnosis or referral by a licensed physician, chiropractor or dentist. In 1976, California became the eighth state to license acupuncturists. Subsequent legislation in 1978 established acupuncture as a "primary health care profession" by eliminating the requirement for prior diagnosis or referral by a licensed physician, chiropractor or dentist.
In 1980, the law was amended to abolish the Acupuncture Advisory Committee and replace it with the Acupuncture Examining Committee within the Division of Allied Health Professions with limited autonomous authority; to expand the acupuncturists' scope of practice to include electroacupuncture, cupping, and moxibustion; to clarify that Asian massage, exercise and herbs for nutrition were within the acupuncturist's scope of practice; and to provide that fees be deposited in the Acupuncture Examining Committee Fund instead of the Medical Board's fund. Most of these statutory changes became effective on January 1, 1982.
In 1982, the Legislature designated the Acupuncture Examining Committee as an autonomous body. Effective January 1, 1990, through AB 2367 (Chapter, 1249, Statutes of 1989) the name was changed to Acupuncture Committee to better identify it as a state licensing entity for acupuncturists. The legislation further provided that, until January 1, 1995, the California Acupuncture Licensing Examination (CALE) would be developed and administrated by an independent consultant, which was later extended to June 2000.
In 1988, legislation was signed into law (Chapter 1496, Statutes of 1988), which included acupuncturists as "physicians" only in the Workers Compensation system for purposes of treating injured workers. The bill permitted acupuncturists to treat workplace injuries without first obtaining a referral, but did not permit acupuncturists to evaluate disability. The bill went into effect in 1989 with a four-year sunset clause. AB 400 (Chapter 824, Statutes of 1992) extended the inclusion of acupuncturists as "physicians" in the Workers' Compensation system until December 1996 and AB 1002 (Chapter 26, Statutes of 1996) further extended the inclusion of acupuncturists as "physicians" in the Workers' Compensation system until January 1, 1999. Legislation passed in 1997 (Chapter 98, Statutes of 1997) deleting the 1999 sunset date on the Workers' Compensation system.
On January 1, 1999, the committee's name was changed to Acupuncture Board (SB 1980, Chapter 991, Statutes of 1998) and the Committee was removed from within the jurisdiction of the Medical Board of California (SB 1981, Chapter 736, Statutes of 1998). It became and remains an autonomous body under the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA).
In 2002, AB 1943 (Chapter 781, Statutes of 2002) was signed into law that raised the acupuncture training program curriculum standards requirement to 3,000 hours, which included 2,050 hours of didactic training and 950 hours of clinical training. The Board promulgated regulations to implement this bill, which become effective January 1, 2005. In 2006, SB 248 (Chapter 659, Statutes of 2005) repealed the nine-member Board and reconstituted it as a seven-member board with four public members and three licensed acupuncturist members. The quorum requirements were changed to require four members including at least one licensed member to constitute a quorum.
In 2014, SB 1246 (Chapter 397, Statutes of 2014), was signed into law. This bill extended the Board's sunset date to January 1, 2017, and made significant changes. Notably, the bill changed the acupuncture training program approval process. An approved acupuncture training program must now obtain approvals from three different agencies:
- Have accreditation, or in pre-accreditation, with the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM)
- Be approved by the Bureau of Private and Post-Secondary Education (BPPE), and,
- Received the Acupuncture Board's approval of Curriculum.
The bill eliminated acupuncture training program approval application fees, did not establish a curriculum review fee, and affected acupuncture training program enforcement and monitoring regulations. The bill also provided the Board authority to set foreign equivalency standards for training and licensure.
On September 26, 2016, AB 2190 (Chapter 667, Statutes of 2016) was signed into law. This bill extended the Board's sunset date to January 1, 2019, while providing additional Board authority to assess foreign equivalency standards for training and licensure.