ASM News Alert

Dear Colleagues,

Happy New Year!

I am writing to provide you with a brief update regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Acupuncturists fall at the end of the Phase 1 distribution of the vaccine. We are working to gather more information regarding the distribution of the vaccine to Acupuncturists (as non-COVID facing healthcare workers) who do not work in facilities in which the vaccine has been provided. At this point it seems likely that individuals will have to show proof of licensure to recieve vaccines at “additional vaccination administration sites.” The state has not released clear guidance as of yet.

We are working tirelessly with our lobbyist, Dan Delaney, to get clarity on this issue for our practitioners.

Please see the statement from Dan Delaney below to see what you can do to support these efforts.

Emilie Gerber-Kunicka, DAIH, MAc, LicAc
President of the Acupuncture Society of Massachusetts

**Please note: The ASM does not express an opinion on vaccination or not but simply wishes to provide the most updated information to our practitioners**


COVID Vaccination Update


    Many of you have raised real and valid concerns regarding the access to the COVID vaccine.   I’m Dan Delaney, lobbyist for ASM.   Since the beginning of the pandemic, the ASM has worked consistently to communicate with state and local public health officials to ensure that acupuncturists are recognized as the licensed health care professionals that they are and seen as an essential part of Massachusetts’ health care system
    One of the things that we’ve been focused on recently is ensuring acupuncturists’ access to the COVID-19 vaccines.   Our understanding is that, as health care workers, acupuncturists should have access to the vaccine during Phase 1, either early as COVID facing practitioners or late as practitioners in non-COVID facing roles. 
    We’ve reached out to Governor Baker’s staff overseeing the COVID response, the head of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases for the Department of Public Health and the Commissioner of Public Health.  We’ve asked for explicit designation for acupuncturists as qualified health care workers and hope to have a response in the coming weeks.
    If you would like to facilitate this effort, please consider reaching out to your state legislators (found here) and ask them to contact DPH Commissioner Bharel at 617-624-5200 to have the Department designate acupuncturists as essential health care workers to be vaccinated in Phase 1.  
    We’re also engaging local public health officials for community specific responses.  If you have questions or concerns about our activities, please contact the ASM at or Dan Delaney @ 
Dan Delaney


Licensed Acupuncturists Achieve Initial Goal in CMS Public Commentary Period!

On December 28, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published their final rule (bottom of page 165 and 166 of pdf) issued December 1, 2020. It includes updates on policy changes for Medicare payments under the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), and other Medicare Part B issues, that will take place on or after January 1, 2021.

Originally, CMS considered devaluing the acupuncture codes through a process called “cross-walking.” The department published intent to cross-walk 97810 through 97814 with the new trigger point acupuncture/dry needling codes 20560 and 20561 because the codes were considered to be “in the same family.”

Outrage Leads to Action:
More than 5000 comments were filed specifically regarding this section of the proposed rule, resulting in a CMS decision to abandon the process of cross-walking acupuncture codes with dry needling codes. Comments issued by ASNY and the ASA are detailed in the published exchange.

Important Outcomes:
It is incredibly important to note this victory in the process. Given that the code has not been re-evaluated since 2005, the success of keeping the codes from being cross-walked is an extraordinary victory showing the power of the industry when they come together with a unified voice. Moreover, the invitation to reevaluate the codes is an opportunity to affect federal change as well.

Also notable in this rule is the fact that the conversion factor has been reduced by $3.68 and is now down to $32.41. This plays a role in reimbursement costs per code. Currently, CMS only covers acupuncture for Chronic lower back pain and LicAcs must have appropriate supervision and cannot bill Medicare directly.)

HUGE THANKS TO Dr. Kallie Guimond, D.Ac., MPH, CEO of the health policy Advocacy institute for the compilation and authorship of this information!


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