Posted By Joshua Saul,
Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Updated: Monday, February 03, 2014
Dear AAAOM Member,
In January 2013 a petition signed by 31,322 AOM practitioners and advocates was submitted to the White House asking that reimbursement to acupuncturists be included in the Medicare program. The petition was supported by the community and encouraged by our national organizations including the AAAOM.
The acupuncture and Oriental medicine community recently received an official response from the White House and Obama administration, sent by Jonathan Blum, Principal Deputy Administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The AAAOM and the AOM community greatly appreciate the efforts by Mr. Blum and his team to respond our request.
The response states a very clear set of instructions regarding the obstacles we must overcome in order to include acupuncturists as healthcare providers in the Medicare system. Mr. Blum explains"…that to do so would require a change to the statute by Congress.”It further states that to include acupuncture as a service "would require a change in statute or a change in the CMS National Coverage Determination (NCD).” As dictated by law, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is responsible for developing NCDs.
Our profession faces two clear choices when evaluating our ability to access the Medicare and Medicaid systems. According section 1862(a)(1)(A) of the Social Security Act,to receive an appropriate NCD in favor of acupuncture as a reimbursable service we must seek to show that acupuncture is medically "reasonable and necessary" through the demonstration of evidenced-based studies and practice. The change to the NCD is determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This determination would allow any practitioner to provide acupuncture as a service according to each state’s scope of practice.
Our other choice is to present federal legislation to Congress. During the past several years, the AAAOM has worked with the AOM community and outside experts to draft such legislation that would bring acupuncture to Medicare and several other major government programs, including Tricare, which would make acupuncture services available to military personnel and their families. But in today’s legislative environment no bills are passed without significant financial backing. We all know that it is the responsibility of practitioners, patients, and advocates of acupuncture and Oriental medicine to unite through our national and state associationsto make this a reality.
The mission of the AAAOM is facilitate access to the highest quality of healthcare in the United States.We remain committed to that purpose and believe that bringing acupuncturists to Medicare and these other programs will serve our profession by bringing this medicine to those in need. Only through your help and financial support can we accomplish this important achievement.
Joshua Saul, LAc
Acting President, AAAOM Board of Directors
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