By Hector Trujillo/Staff Writer
A bill requiring health-care service plans
and health insurers to provide coverage for acupuncture under a group
plan or policy is being considered in the Legislature.
Assembly Bill 54, introduced by Mervyn Dymally, D-Compton, creates new
coverage requirements on health-care service plans and would impose
state-mandated local programs.
“Every insurer issuing group health insurance shall provide coverage for
expenses incurred as a result of treatment by holders of licenses under
Section 4938 of the Business and Professional Code...,” according to the
Section 4938 says any person other than a physician, surgeon, dentist or
podiatrist who is not licensed and practices or supervises an
acupuncture procedure involving the application of a needle is guilty of
“About 70 percent of insurers are currently offering acupuncture
coverage in their plans,” said Janet Leach, a licensed acupuncturist.
“It will make a huge difference with 100 percent of patients being
“This bill will significantly affect the way acupuncturists are
perceived in the medical profession,” added Leach, who has worked at the
Five Cities Medical Building in Pismo Beach for the last seven years.
AB 54, now in the hands of the Appropriations Committee, makes it a
crime for healthcare service plans to violate any of its provisions.
Senate Bill 840, also being considered in the Legislature, requires a
referral from a physician before acupuncture would be covered by
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