Stories & Connections
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Vermont Acupuncturists Introduce New Bill for Full Coverage:
People for Acupuncture Sunsets
Update of March 2017
Having successfully developed legislation that includes acupuncture in a 2017 state Medicaid program for combating opioid addiction (see next), the state’s acupuncturists have introduced a new bill into the 2017 legislative session that “requires health insurance plans to cover acupuncture.”
H. 282 is available here (pdf). The bill puts acupuncturists on an equal footing with other licensed healthcare disciplines for compensation and especially inclusion in provider networks. The effective date for these changes to insurer plans would be Oct. 2017.
The policy group, People for Acupuncture, which was formed in 2015 explicitly to expand access to acupuncture, and which was responsible for the Medicaid pilot described next, has been disbanded and all its policy work has moved to the Vermont Acupuncture Association, VAA. Kerry Boyle Jennings, one of the leaders of People for Acupuncture, has assumed the president’s role at VAA.
Vermont Passes Opioid Bill: $200,000 acupuncture pilot included
Update of Oct. 2016
In June Vermont’s Opiate Bill, S. 243, “An act relating to combating opioid abuse in Vermont,” was passed encompassing some of the provisions of a separate bill introduced by People for Acupuncture last January. That bill that sought to mandate insurance coverage for acupuncture treatments for conditions such as drug and alcohol additions, anxiety and nausea, in addition to pain management.
The new Opioid Bill directs the Vermont Department of Health Access to prepare a pilot acupuncture treatment program for a defined group of Medicaid beneficiaries diagnosed with chronic pain, with the objective of “returning patients to social, occupational and psychological function.” The bill appropriates $200,000 for the pilot. An implementation plan is due in January 2017.
This legislative initiative is another example of actions being taken due to the growing awareness of the effectiveness of integrative pain management strategies, especially for pain and for addressing a public health problem as severe and costly as the opioid epidemic.
See the People for Acupuncture press release here.
Scroll down to the References section for text of the bill A173.
Acupuncturists Take Legislative Initiative
Update of Feb. 2016
People for Acupuncture, a 501(c)4 advocacy organization formed in late 2015, introduced a bill into the state legislative in early 2016. H.573 would “Require insurance coverage for certain medically necessary health care services when delivered by a licensed acupuncturist.”
Although this bill is not designed to cover all state-licensed healthcare professionals, as is the case with Section 2706, as those bills in other states are designed, this one addresses unequal insurer reimbursement when paying different amounts (or none at all) to providers for treating identical conditions. For example:
“Coverage for medically necessary diagnosis and treatment related to pain management, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorder, and nausea…shall not be denied reimbursement by the health insurer for providing those covered services if the health insurer would reimburse another health care provider for providing the services.”
The bill is available in the references for this section below. See more from People for Acupuncture here.
If you are aware of other people and groups working to end discrimination and open access to care providers in Vermont, please let us know. Just drop an email.