BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Two recent bills signed into law by the Minnesota Legislature will have a significant impact for consumers seeking acupuncture treatments and care from naturopathic practitioners.

Equal Access to Acupuncture Act Signed Into Law

A huge victory for acupuncture and natural health care was realized in May, 2009, as the Equal Access to Acupuncture Act was signed into law by the Minnesota legislature. It was a giant effort that was years in the making.

The legislation was previously introduced in 2002, 2003, 2008 and again in 2009, when it finally passed. The bill was sponsored by the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Association of Minnesota and was dedicated in the honor of Edith R. Davis, the pioneer acupuncturist who passed away in 2008. Many Northwestern staff and students worked hard to help get the bill passed.

The new law means that consumers will have access to a qualified provider of acupuncture, if they have a condition that is covered by their medical insurance. Previously, acupuncture provided by a licensed acupuncturist was not covered by most insurance plans.

Bonnie Bolash, American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Legislative Committee chair, said, “Hopefully this will spill over into other areas of coverage and discussion in Minnesota and nationally. My hope for the future in health care is that there will be continued discussions which focus on wellness care that incorporates choices such as acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage, naturopathy and other natural healing options.”

Minnesota Passes Registration Law for Naturopathic Doctors

Naturopathic doctors who graduated from four-year naturopathic medical schools will now be required to register with the State of Minnesota, according to a law that took effect July 1, 2009. The registration is similar to licensing required by other health care practitioners.

What does this mean for consumers? According to Amrit Devgun, ND, a naturopathic practitioner at Northwestern’s Natural Care Center at Woodwinds, “It helps consumers recognize that when they see a registered naturopathic doctor,  that practitioner is a professional who has graduated from an accredited four-year naturopathic medical school and is one who meets federal and state regulations.”

The legislation clarifies the use of the title “Naturopathic Doctor,” and defines the scope of practice for naturopathic doctors, and what conditions they can treat. It also provides professional oversight for practicing naturopathic doctors, and demonstrates lawmakers’ support of access to safe and effective natural medicine.

Northwestern Health Sciences University offers a wide array of choices in natural health care education including chiropractic, Oriental medicine, acupuncture, therapeutic massage and human biology. The University has nearly 900 students on a 25-acre campus in Bloomington, Minnesota.