H.R.4803 – Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act of 2021

H.R.4803 – Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act of 2021

March 9, 2023 Uncategorized

In early 2021, CMS announced that Medicare would now cover acupuncture treatments for chronic lower back pain. The elderly would have 20 sessions of acupuncture treatment under Medicare since then. This was originally thought to have been exciting news for the elderly. However, these patients soon found out that although acupuncture was covered by Medicare, they were unable to reap that benefit.

This was because the licensed acupuncturist was not labeled as a healthcare provider under the CMS system, therefore, our elderly must find a MD acupuncturist to receive acupuncture treatment.
However, there are very few MDs (or Medicare providers) that have acupuncture licenses and provide acupuncture treatment within the US. On the other hand, there are nearly 40,000 acupuncturists who possess acupuncture training and are licensed in the US, but are being excluded from treating Medicare patients. As a result, approximately 50 million Medicare patients are unable to access their acupuncture benefits.

There are lots of elderly suffering from chronic pain in the United States today. This pain seriously impacts their daily quality of life. As a result, the prescription of pain medication has become an extremely commonplace in an attempt to relieve them of their pain and help with their daily functions. However, with long-term use of pain medication, severe side effects can appear in the elderly. This is especially true of opioid pain medication, which often can lead to addiction. According to 2020 statistics from the CDC, 44 patients pass away every day because of opioid pain medication overuse. This death toll adds up to approximately 16,000 people losing their lives as a result of pain medication every year.

Congressman Judy Chu proposed the HR4803 bill in 2021. One aspect of this bill proposes labeling licensed acupuncturists as healthcare providers under the CMS system once again, thus allowing for acupuncturists to directly bill Medicare after treating Medicare patients.


About the author