Health Care Reform Promotes Acupuncture

Many of us have wondered how health care reform will impact alternative medicine. During a Town Hall meeting in Missouri in May,  a licensed acupuncturist queried President Obama about his thoughts on this subject. He replied: “ … we should do what works … it is pretty well documented through scientific studies that acupuncture, for example, can be very helpful in relieving certain [conditions] like migraines and other ailments or [be] at least as effective as more intrusive interventions.”

“ …as we’re going through health care reform, let’s find out what works… one basic principle … is that the more we do on the prevention side, the more we can obtain serious savings down the road.” (From

Interest in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM) has been stimulated in the state and federal governments this year. On Acupuncture Awareness Day, April 23, 2009, legislators and staff at the California State Capitol were visited by acupuncture students and practitioners. Some legislative aides received acupuncture treatments. Also, a network that informs policy-makers about legislation that impacts AOM at the state and national levels is being organized.

At Senate health committee hearings, panelists recommended that a White House Office of Wellness be established that would, among other things, promote wellness and disease-prevention practices from different healing traditions. Investing in integrative medicine is among the health reform strategies.  A Federal Acupuncture Coverage Act, HR646, seeks coverage of qualified acupuncturist services for Medicare recipients and Federal employees. Hundreds of thousands of people would obtain access to acupuncture through benefit plans. Some Senators have called this a “watershed” moment for health and integrative health care in the United States. (From The American Acupuncturist News Edition, Summer 2009, Vol. 48)