Declining state of health care in the valley
June 13, 2012
Hi – I’m Aaron Nickamin, a licensed acupuncturist, licensed massage therapist and doctoral student for acupuncture and oriental medicine.
I am responding to an article that Scott Condon at The Aspen Times wrote, for which I appreciate his efforts, (“Health insurance changes for 1,200 Aspen Skiing Co. employees,” June 9).
The focus of why I contacted The Aspen Times was to educate the public about acupuncture credentials in Colorado as well as Aspen Skiing Co. knowingly choosing the Cigna insurance carrier, which covers only acupuncture and massage therapy when performed by a doctor of medicine or doctor of chiropractic.
In Colorado, licensed acupuncturists can practice acupuncture if they have passed the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture exams and gone to an accredited school with a minimum of three years post graduate degree and 1,905 hours, although most programs in the U.S. are up to 3,000 hours.
Doctors of chiropractic medicine have a 100-hour training to sit for their board exam to practice acupuncture and need another 24 hours to do “dry needling” (a term that physical therapists use to practice acupuncture).
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Medical doctors and doctors of veterinary medicine are not required to do any acupuncture training.
Physical therapists need 46 hours of training to do dry needling.
In January, Colorado adopted a non-discriminatory law that insurance companies have to pay medical doctors, doctors of chiropractic and licensed acupuncturists the same for acupuncture services. Unfortunately, Cigna, which Skico is choosing to use, has a self-pay situation, which allows it to not have to follow Colorado law.
I am sure there are other providers that offer professional services that use licensed acupuncturists and licensed massage therapists.
This situation raises public health care safety when companies are choosing to use providers with less training or not at all. I hope this attempt has educated the public of where our health care in the Roaring Fork is headed.
If anyone has questions about acupuncture credentials in Colorado, you may contact the Department of Regulatory Agencies at 303-894-7800.