Massachusetts Acupuncture Insurance Coverage Legislation

on 01 July 2011.

Massachusetts State Representative William S. Pignatelli (Democrat; Lenox, MA) has introduced legislation to ensure acupuncture insurance coverage for all health insurance policies in Massachusetts. Supporters cite research demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of healthcare provided by licensed acupuncturists and the right to equal access to licensed medical providers. The bill (H.3519) has now been referred to the Massachusetts legislative committee on financial services and awaits further action. The bill has a total of 19 cosponsors.

The AOMSM (Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Society of Massachusetts) has worked to promote this legislation. The AOMSM notes research supporting the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture and the clinical efficacy of acupuncture as important factors in this legislation’s passage. The bill will provide acupuncture services for low-income families and requires that all insurance policies provide benefits for services performed by a licensed acupuncturist in Massachusetts.

Covered services performed by licensed acupuncturists are for both diagnostics and treatment. Diagnostics in the bill include but are not limited to “observation, listening, smelling, inquiring, palpation, pulses, tongue, physiognomy, 5 element correspondences, ryodoraku, German electro-acupuncture, and thermography.” Treatment modalities in the bill include but are not limited to “auricular, hand, nose, face, foot and/or scalp acupuncture therapy; stimulation to acupuncture points and channels by use of any of the following: needles, moxibustion, cupping, thermal methods, magnets, scraping techniques, ion cord linking acupuncture devices with wires, hot and cold packs, electromagnetic wave therapy and lasers; manual stimulation, including stimulation by an instrument or mechanical device that does not pierce the skin, massage, acupressure, reflexology, shiatsu and tui na; and electrical stimulation including electro-acupuncture, percutaneous and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.”

Another category of provided services is called “adjunct therapies” and includes “oriental nutritional counseling, and the recommendation of nonprescription substances that meet the federal Food and Drug Administration labeling requirements as dietary supplements to promote health; instruction and training of meditation, breathing techniques and therapeutic movement exercises, including, but not limited to, tai chi, Qi Gong, Sotai, and lifestyle, behavioral, supportive, educational and stress counseling.” This bill will apply to any contract between a subscriber and the health insurance corporation whether it is a new policy or renewed policy.

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