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Home > Newsletters > April 2008 > What Happened to Mississippi House Bill 724?

 What Happened to Mississippi House Bill 724?

A letter to the Acupuncture Community from Jerusha De Groote, MSOM of the Mississippi Oriental Medicine Association

The struggle has been long and arduous, and many wonderful things have happened along the way for House Bill 724. Unfortunately, it met its demise on the House Floor this past Thursday, February 28, 2008. I am not discouraged, though! This bill went down in a blaze of glory and controversy, just as I suspected it might.

On Tuesday, February 26, the Mississippi State Medical Association placed a scathing letter on all House Members desks in the Chamber. In this letter, the President of the MSMA implores the House to vote against acupuncturists of practicing without a medical license and that acupuncturists have made “wild claims” about cures for conditions such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and gastritis. Furthermore, he claims that allowing non-physicians to practice acupuncture is just plain “bad medicine.”

It was certainly a turning point in our efforts with the individual legislators. Ayres Haxton, our volunteer lobbyist, and I spoke with as many members as possible to thwart their efforts. On Thursday, the last day for bills to receive action on the Floor, the group who sided with the Mississippi State Medical Association participated in legislative boondoggling that prevented HB 724 from even being debated. All of MOMA's hard work to contact legislators must have worked! They were very intimidated by all of you knowing how they were going to vote and prevented a roll call.

However, in an exciting turn of events, after lunch one of our distinguished Representatives, Bobby Moak from Bogue Chitta, attached our bill as an amendment to another bill. Although this was a very sneaky approach, it felt only right considering the Mississippi State Medical Association was playing dirty. The House passed the amendment in a sleepy stupor, even with an abbreviated version of the sections of the bill being read out loud. Scary these folks are making our laws! In any case, this was shortly discovered by the opposition. At the end of the day, the bill was resurrected once again and the amendment was killed. It was not a futile effort because that vote was recorded. I sincerely believe that all of your voices made HB 724 as controversial as it was. In the end, one of the co-authors of our bill made the declaration on the Floor: "This is not the last time you will see an Acupuncture Licensing Bill on this House Floor!" It was thrilling and those who worked so hard for this bill are my heroes.

Jerusha De Groote, MSOM

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