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Acupuncturists and Athletic Trainers Introduce Legislation to Expand Scope of Practice

Tuesday, February 14, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Nicholas
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Acupuncturists and Athletic Trainers Introduce Legislation to Expand Scope of Practice

Last week the acupuncturists worked to have introduced in the House a  “sunset” piece of legislation aimed at not only preventing PTs from performing dry needling, but also expanding the acupuncture scope of practice to include physical therapy.  

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) drafted the real acupuncture sunset renewal bill and it was introduced in the Senate (SB 898), sponsored by Republican Senator Pam Althoff.  At the same time, two other pieces of other legislation SB 1350 and HB 2630, cited as sunset renewal bills, were introduced.   These alternate bills do not include any of the regulatory/administrative changes that would be part of a sunset renewal - they actually propose to not only define dry needling as acupuncture and incorporate physical therapy in the practice of acupuncture, they seek to rewrite the Acupuncture Practice Act and rename it the Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine Practice Act.

SB 1350 is sponsored by Senator Martinez (D), Licensed Activities Chair.
HB 2630 is sponsored by recently elected House member Theresa Mah (D), the first Asian American member of the House. 

Lobbyists representing the acupuncturists worked the House last week to garner support for their alternative bill (HB 2630), representing it as sunset legislation when, in fact, the IDFPR's sunset bill was not even introduced in the House. At least one Representative has removed himself as a bill co-sponsor since learning that HB 2630 represents a huge expansion in scope of practice for acupuncturists. Others have reported that they plan to do the same when they head back to Springfield on Wednesday for the Governor's budget address.

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In addition...

As part of a national initiative to increase the scope of practice for athletic trainers, Illinois House Bill 3020 was introduced by Sen. Michael McAuliffe (R).  This bill would essentially provide ATs in Illinois with the ability to work either under a physician or autonomously and see any individual with a script or referral from a physician. They are proposing a complete rewrite of the athletic trainer scope of practice, allowing AT's to provide “therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions incurred by individuals and for which the athletic trainer has received appropriate education and training.”  

What that training/education is? Questionable. While the profession is moving to the Master’s degree, the vast majority of programs remain at a Bachelor’s degree level and those Masters programs that currently exist still do not broaden the education and clinical training commensurate with this proposed scope expansion.

AT clinical training is highly variable and, for the most part, observational only and does not require the student to evaluate, diagnose, and treat the wide range of conditions that present in the acute care clinic, the family practice clinic or the physical therapy clinic.

Their current practice act defines their practice entirely in context of athletics and athletes. The bill would allow them to “provide clinical diagnosis” and “therapeutic intervention” for “medical conditions” – without any specific limitations. The bill does not expressly prohibit ATs from treating, for example, acute and chronic spinal patients (a major cost driver in health care today), individuals with disabilities due to neurological conditions and aging (which is why Medicare excludes ATs as qualified providers) and the medically complex patient in the intensive care unit.

The IPTA is urging its members to review these pieces of legislation ASAP.

IPTA President Mike Riley, PT, Executive Director, Colleen Flannery and several IPTA members will be traveling to Springfield this week to talk with legislators.

IPTA members who have signed up as key contacts will be receiving separate instructions on how to reach out to their legislators.  If you are interested in becoming a key contact, contact the Chapter office (

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