A bill supporting acupuncture insurance coverage for Californians was brought to the attention of the California Acupuncture Board by a board member in a recent meeting. The California Acupuncture Board’s executive officer, Janelle Wedge, “noted that this is just in the beginning phase and subject to changes but will keep the Board apprised,” according to Board minutes. The California Acupuncture Medical Association (CAMA) urged the Board to support the bill to ensure consumer access to care and noted that California would become the second state to have such an acupuncture insurance provision should the bill pass.
The California State bill AB 72 (Eng) is a legislative requirement that all group health plan contracts and group health insurance policies provide acupuncture as a covered procedure. Current California law mandates that all such plans provide coverage for hospital, medical, or surgical expenses. The bill amends existing law to include acupuncture as a required insurance benefit. The bill remains in committee.
A similar bill resides in the Massachusetts State legislature. 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.