Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 135963; Published
Judges Sawyer, Connor, and A. G. Best II; Unanimous
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 195 Mich App 316; Link to Opinion
In this unanimous published Opinion authored by Judge Connor, the Court of Appeals, on leave granted from the circuit court, affirmed a district court order which held that State Farm did not have to pay for allowable expenses consisting of acupuncture services performed by a licensed registered nurse who is not licensed to practice acupuncture in Michigan.
Plaintiff who sustained injuries in an automobile accident, was referred to a licensed registered nurse who practices acupuncture. Although the acupuncture has been beneficial to plaintiff in the treatment of her injuries, the defendant refused to pay for the services for the reason that the provider was not licensed to practice acupuncture in Michigan. The Court of Appeals stated that the issue on appeal was whether §3107, which provides for payment of allowable expenses consisting of all reasonable charges incurred for reasonably necessary products, services and accommodations, should be read to require that the medical expenses incurred be provided by a lawfully licensed practitioner, even if the services are provided at a treating physician's recommendation. The Court of Appeals based its decision upon the provisions of §3157 which state that a physician, hospital, clinic or other person or institution lawfully rendering treatment to an injured person covered by no-fault insurance may charge a reasonable amount for those services. The Court of Appeals held that it was clear that the Legislature intended that only treatment lawfully rendered, including compliance with licensing requirements, may be subject to payment as no-fault benefits.
Consequently, unless acupuncture is administered by a licensed physician, it is not lawfully rendered. If the treatment was not lawfully rendered, it is not reimbursable as a no-fault benefit.
It should be noted that the State of Michigan has not yet recognized the independent licensing of acupuncturists. However, in Attorney General v Raquckas, 84 Mich App 618 (1978), the Court of Appeals held that acupuncture is the practice of medicine or osteopathy, and therefore, only licensed physicians Can perform such procedures. The court held that absent specific legislation providing for the independent licensing of acupuncturists, a registered nurse may not independently practice acupuncture as part of the care or treatment rendered to patients. The court held that the only possible exception might be when a licensed physician supervises another individual performing acupuncture in accordance with MCLA 333.16109(2). Here, however, there was no supervision of the acupuncturist by a licensed physician.