There is a bill in its early stages in the MA legislature that mandates insurance coverage for acupuncture care. Read on to the end of this post to find out what you can do to help this along. Here is why I think that insurance coverage for acupuncture is so important:
1. Mandating that insurance companies cover acupuncture sessions will increase access to acupuncture, which is currently mostly limited to upper middle class residents of MA or recipients of free grant-funded programs. I know numerous physicians who want to refer their patients to acupuncture but don't because they know their patients can't afford it. For certain conditions, acupuncture has been shown to be very effective - and it seems morally and ethically wrong that only wealthy MA residents get to pursue that treatment option.
2. Such action would also open the possibility of acupuncturists working in major hospitals and doctor's offices, which is how true integrative medicine - with interaction between many different members of a multi-disciplinary patient care team - can unfold. If acupuncture becomes a reimbursable treatment option, then acupuncturists can work alongside primary care physicians, physical therapists, psychiatrists, OB/Gyn doctors, surgeons, and more. Patients could receive acupuncture while hospitalized and in critical care. I have no doubt that such a working environment and collaboration between specialists would better not only the acupuncture care but the Western medical care, as well. Imagine going to your doctor for your back pain, having him or her write a prescription for your pain meds, and then telling you to go into the room next door to see the acupuncturist. Imagine situations where your doctors, acupuncturists, physical therapists, and other healthcare workers sit around a table once a week and discuss your case and your medical care. Imagine the learning that could take place - on the part of the patient, the acupuncturist, and the doctor. Imagine patients getting better faster! Integrative Medicine approaches will take more than the insurance mandate to make them happen, but they will not be able to happen without the coverage.
3. An insurance mandate would increase healthcare options for all MA residents and help to ensure access to quality care for all patients.
But...this insurance coverage for acupuncture needs your help to become a reality! Please see the instructions in the message below, and call or email the committee co-chairs today.
Also, for more information about the bill, look at the website of the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Society of Massachusetts.
If you are local to the Wellesley area, you can also stop by Stepping Stone Acupuncture anytime to sign our petition.
AOMSM ACUPUNCTURE INSURANCE COVERAGE UPDATE
July 19, 2011
The bill to mandate insurance coverage of acupuncture services is currently progressing through the legislature. Last week the bill was designated as H3519 and was assigned to the Joint Committee on Financial Services. We urgently need your help with this bill.
NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT!
Here is what you can do to help move H3519 forward:
You can contact the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Financial Services and ask them to schedule a hearing for bill H3519.
Senator Anthony Petrucelli (617) 722- 1634 Anthony.Petrucelli@masenate.gov
Representative Michael A. Costello (617) 722- 2220 Michael.Costello@mahouse.gov
A sample script reads as follows:
"My name is ------and I live in ------. I am calling in support of House Bill H3519. I urge the co-chair Senator/Rep ----- to put this bill on the docket for a hearing. This bill will help to increase the access and affordability of acupuncture for the public.
In 1997 the National Institute of Health Consensus Committee on Acupuncture recommended that acupuncture be integrated into our health care system and that Medicare and Medicaid reimburse for its use. Several studies have shown that Acupuncture is one of the most rigorously evaluated and effective interventions for pain. I urge Senator/Rep------ advocacy in moving this important matter forward."