Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act – H.R. 4803
In January 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) declared that Medicare would cover acupuncture for patients with chronic low back pain under specific criteria (https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/acupuncture). The acupuncture must be performed by a physician or a licensed acupuncturist (LAc) under the supervision of a physician. The supervising physician then bills Medicare for the treatment.
In July 2021, U.S. Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) introduced H.R. 4803, the “Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act” (https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/4803/text). The bill was developed in conjunction with the American Society of Acupuncture (ASA), the major organization for licensed acupuncturists in the U.S.
H.R. 4803 calls for CMS to recognize LAcs as primary providers of acupuncture for Medicare beneficiaries. An LAc would not require physician supervision for the treatment. The LAc would also be able to bill Medicare directly.
Last month the AAMA sent a letter to Rep. Chu in support of H.R. 4803. We also voiced our concern that medical acupuncturists must still be authorized to provide Medicare-reimbursable “qualified acupuncture services.” In early July, Gavin Elliott and I, the AAMA Legislative Committee’s co-chairs, met with Rep. Chu’s aide to ask that wording be included in the bill to ensure that trained physicians be included in the definition of “qualified acupuncturist.” The aide felt that this would be best accomplished as the bill passes through the Committee on Energy & Commerce, the Committee on Ways & Means, and the Subcommittee on Health later in July.
The AAMA Legislative Committee will be following the progress of this bill which currently has 10 Democratic sponsors and one Republican sponsor (see the list below). We encourage you to contact your representatives in support of H.R. 4803 and perhaps even suggest that they sign on as co-sponsors of the bill. The spirit of goodwill and cooperation between the ASA and the AAMA will help to promote acupuncture as a covered treatment for other conditions in the future.
H.R. 4803 Sponsors:
- *Judy Chu (D – CA)
- Earl Blumenauer (D – OR)
- Brian Fitzpatrick (R – PA)
- Barbara Lee (D – CA)
- Joseph Neguse (D – CO)
- Grace Meng (D – NY)
- Grace Napolitano (D – CA)
- Eleanor Norton (D – DC)
- Jimmy Panetta (D – CA)
- Chellie Pingree (D – ME)
- Thomas Suozzi (D – NY)
Submitted by Donna Pittman, MD, FAAMA, Co-Chair, AAMA Legislative Committee