Medicare Recipients ACT NOW!

Currently Medicare does not cover Acupuncture. However, YOU can assist in changing this.

The House of Representatives and the Senate will be voting on a Federal Acupuncture Coverage Act.


National Letter-writing Campaign to Support “The Federal Acupuncture Coverage Act of 2009” (HR 646)


We are at the forefront of a momentous change in U.S. healthcare, and acupuncture and Oriental medicine is an important part of this crucial transition. In supporting and passing HR 646, we need everyone’s voice to make it happen!


What is HR 646 and why is it important?

 This is a decisive moment for acupuncture and Oriental medicine. HR 646, also known as “The Federal Acupuncture Coverage Act of 2009,” amends title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for coverage of qualified acupuncturist services under part B of the Medicare Program, and to amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for coverage of such services under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. The passing of this bill will open acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) to many more patients who could benefit from its effectiveness.

H.R. 646 and Lobbying Activities

A part of the Social Security Act, Medicare is a federally funded U.S. health care program that provides health insurance programs for people over the age of 65 as well as the disabled. Acupuncture is currently not a benefit under Medicare.


More than 45.3 million Americans currently receive Medicare benefits. As the “baby boomers” age and get ready for retirement, the number of people over 65 eligible for Medicare may exceed 20% of our population by 2030. This legislation, H.R.646, is seen as an investment in their health and prosperity.


Recognition of acupuncture and Oriental medicine by Medicare situates acupuncturists and Oriental medicine practitioners as federally endorsed members of the professional teams that care for patients. This amendment will expand access to acupuncture and Oriental medicine to millions of Americans!


The history of the Federal Acupuncture Act (H.R.646) dates back to 1993. Congressman Maurice Hinchey (NY) has continuously introduced this legislation into Congress. The bill was reintroduced yet again in the 111th Congress on January 22, 2009, as H.R.646. The bill reads as follows: H.R.646 Title: To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for coverage of qualified acupuncturist services under part B of the Medicare Program, and to amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for coverage of such services under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Sponsor: Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] (introduced 1/22/2009) Cosponsors (13) Latest Major Action: 1/22/2009 Referred to House committee.

Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and, in addition, to the Committees on Ways and Means, and Oversight and Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned. The NGA (National Government Affairs) Committee of the AAAOM has been working diligently with lawmakers, LAc’s, and members of the community to put this bill forefront of policy-maker minds in Washington. This bill will allow access to acupuncture and TCM to a large population of patients. They will thus have the option to spend their health care dollars on acupuncture. Passage of this bill would increase the average customary and reasonable estimates for acupuncture treatments, and expand reimbursement options for acupuncture patients. In the simplest terms, acupuncture would be accessible to everyone and require less out-of-pocket expense for the patient.

Passage of this bill requires political action at a critical time in our government. Dramatic change is occurring right now, this bill will have to go though the House of Representatives and the Senate. Currently, H.R. 646 has 13 co- sponsors in the House—not nearly enough to get passed. The bill has not been brought to the Senate floor.


The AAAOM NGA Committee is currently pursuing two courses of action to overcome these hurdles. The first is the development of a grass roots advocacy campaign to be implemented nationally and locally (within all states across the nation.) The second is the hiring of a professional lobbyist that has AOM interest regarding this bill on the forefront in Washington. Combined, AOM professionals can see this passage through and have this billed passed and added to the Social Security Act.

Inclusion in Medicare opens the doors to access for benefits plans based on what Medicare covers. Plans under large insurers such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS), United, Aetna, Cigna etc. would then need to reimburse for acupuncture services because of Medicare. Other plans, called Medicare supplements, would also have to reimburse for services. Note that seniors are not the only people covered by Medicare; those who are disabled due to certain diseases or conditions are also Medicare beneficiaries. Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine professionals provide critical access to nonmedication pain management.

What can I do?

Write a letter to your Member of Congress. Write a letter in support of HR 646!

The American Acupuncture Association of Oriental Medicine is issuing a call to action letter writing campaign in support of HR 646.

It is crucially important that your Congress Member knows the importance of this bill and how acupuncture has impacted your life – and the lives many constituents. Find the name and address of your Member of Congress: http://www.house.gov.


Do these letters really matter?


Yes! In order to count, in Washington, we need to be counted. Your voice matters, now more than ever! The pharmaceutical and insurance companies spend tens of millions of lobbying dollars each month to be heard on Capitol Hill. While our profession cannot compete with those dollars at this time, we have something those industries do not have: enthusiastic support from constituents whose lives are touched by this medicine. Our voice cannot be ignored in Washington if we stand united as one and speak together!

What should my letter say?

I have a sample at the bottom of this page for you to follow as a guide. Your letter should briefly state what HR 646 is, and why it is important to you. Making letters personal by handwriting them in this age of mass-email gives them more validity. The body of the letter should also include your full name and contact information, and be addressed specifically to your own Member of Congress.


What can I do besides a hand written letter?

Follow it up with a phone call and, lastly, an email. We encourage everyone to take part, whether that is a handwritten letter, phone call or email. Please send emails to hr646support@gmail.com. These, too, will be hand delivered. Where to send your letters: All letters collected by the AAAOM will be personally hand delivered by our AAAOM national lobbyist, Sam Brunelli.

Please send all of your letters to:

For United State Postal Services Deliveries:

AAAOM HR 646 Letter Campaign, PO Box 162340 , Sacramento, CA 95816

For FedEx or UPS Deliveries: AAAOM HR 646 Letter Campaign, 909 22nd Street Sacramento, CA 95816        916-443-4770

To Fax: AAAOM Attention: HR 646 Letter Campaign 916-443-4766

P. O. Box 162340 ♦ Sacramento, CA 95816 ♦ Toll Free: 866.455.7999 ♦ Fax: 916.443.4766 ♦ www.aaaomonline.org

 

Example Draft for Grassroots Letter Campaign HR 646

*This is an example only, please personalize*


(Date)
[Click here and type recipient’s address]

Dear {Congress member’s name here}:
I am writing you today to ask for your support of bill HR 646. This bill will amend the Social Security Act to provide for coverage of qualified acupuncturist services under part B of Medicare, and will provide for coverage of such services under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
Acupuncture is safe, effective and economical. It is one of the fastest growing healthcare choices in the country, with a strong focus on prevention. The passing of this bill will benefit thousands of your constituents who are in need of these services.
My personal experience with acupuncture…[Personal experiences adds to a letter, but it is up to your discretion]
Thank you for you attention to this important matter.
Sincerely,
[Click here and type your name]
[Click here and type your job title here or student, and the name of the school]
[Click here and type your contact information, email, and phone #]

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