April 27, Wisconsin Health News
Doctors and acupuncturists oppose a bill that would allow chiropractors to perform physical examinations for student athletes and practice "chiropractic acupuncture" and "chiropractic dry needling" if they receive additional training.
The bill received a public hearing Wednesday before the Assembly Committee on Health.
Under the proposal, schools that require a pupil to have a physical examination to participate in sports and other activities will have to accept a physical examination completed by a chiropractor the same way it accepts those completed by doctors. The chiropractor would have to hold a certificate in health or physical examinations.
The same requirement would apply to the state's technical colleges or a two-year campus within the University of Wisconsin System that require physical examinations for students to participate in sports.
"With some additional training, doctors of chiropractic could provide a high quality exam," Mark Cassellius, a chiropractor practicing in Onalaska, told lawmakers.
Dr. Tosha Wetterneck, past president of the Wisconsin Medical Society, opposes the bill.
The physical examination isn't just focused on the athletics, but on at-risk behaviors, immunizations and other factors that might impact sports participation, she said. That requires extensive training.
"This is rocket science," she said. "This is difficult."
The bill would also allow chiropractors to practice "chiropractic acupuncture" if they complete at least 200 hours of instruction and the acupuncture examination administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
The bill would also allow chiropractors to practice "chiropractic dry needling," which involves puncturing the skin with needles to treat "neuromusculoskeletal pain and performance," if they complete 50 hours of postgraduate study.
Shawano-based chiropractor Brian Grieves said the bill could help address the opioid epidemic by increasing access to alternatives pain treatments.
"We have very limited, proven, effective non-drug options to offer people for pain," he said. "Being able to augment that by offering chiropractic acupuncture would greatly expand that access."
Elissa Gonda, chair of the legislative committee for The Wisconsin Society of Certified Acupuncturists, opposes the bill.
"Acupuncture is a serious and rigorous profession," she said. "It's not a method or technique that can be employed on an occasional basis by another healthcare practitioner."
Steve Conway, executive director of the Chiropractic Society of Wisconsin, said they're generally supportive of the bill but they're still vetting it.