The Colorado Assembly has approved a measure to ensure that licensed acupuncturists are reimbursed for acupuncture services for all insurance policies that provide acupuncture as a benefit. The Colorado Senate has unanimously passed the bill in subcommittee and the bill has been referred the whole Senate for a formal vote. Under current Colorado law, insurance companies can deny reimbursement to licensed acupuncturists for acupuncture services even if the patient’s policy explicitly states that acupuncture coverage is a benefit. Insurance companies can deny reimbursement by stating that only MDs or chiropractors can be reimbursed for acupuncture services. The bill, HB1186, fixes this problem by adding acupuncturists to the list of “health care providers that cannot be denied.” The bill is supported by the Acupuncture Association of Colorado. The bill also protects acupuncturists from discrimination by insurance companies from the use of multiple reimbursement fee schedules that could be used to pay licensed acupuncturists less that other providers for acupuncture services.
The bill states, “whenever any such policy or plan provides for reimbursement for any service that may be lawfully performed by a person licensed in this state for the practice of osteopathy, medicine, dentistry, dental hygiene, optometry, psychology, chiropractic, or podiatry, or acupuncture, a carrier shall not deny reimbursement under the policy or plan when the service is rendered by a person so licensed. Nothing in this part 1 or PART 2 or 5 of this article precludes a carrier from setting different fee schedules in an insurance policy for different services performed by different professions, but the carrier shall use the same fee schedule for those portions of health services that are substantially identical although performed by different professions.” The provision, if passed, will take effect on January 1, 2012 and applies to health care plans issued or renewed on or after that date. House sponsorship is by Ryden, Kerr A., McCann, and Vigil. Senate sponsorship is by Guzman.