July/August 2020 Newsletter

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From the Chair

Dear Colleagues:

“The Road to Success is Always Under Construction” – unknown

When embarking on new endeavors, we often want immediate solutions and prescribed pathways.  But all worthwhile and successful journeys in life require the process of being open to new thinking, exploring different options, considering new potential partners, and adapting to unforeseen obstacles along the way. After all, new and desirable results rarely come without different and considered action.


On July 23, 2020, the ASA Member State Associations voted in favor of pursuing Medicare inclusion for licensed acupuncturists as practitioners. As practitioners, opt-out is approved. Out of 34 state member associations, the vote was 93% (28 votes) in favor of inclusion with no dissenting votes, 2 abstentions and 4 absences.

While this vote begins our journey to Medicare inclusion, we now must map out our strategic path, align with favorable partners to develop and fortify our voice, identify and leverage the optimal timing to blaze our trail and generate the funds to support this effort. 

To start construction of this strategic path, the ASA board began discussions with the NCCAOM advocacy team this month.  As we formulate short- and long-term goals, we will share updates in Acupuncture Today and all the usual ASA communications channels.  Additionally, the ASA began restructuring internally to support this and all future endeavors.

Committee Open Call

In the past three months, the ASA has appointed several new committee chairs and each chair is working on their charter (located on committee page) defining their committee’s role and responsibilities. A new electronic application form has been constructed to streamline the committee member application process.  There are committee positions available for every interest and level of time commitment, just use the links to apply to the committee that interests you.

Cultural Competency

In response to current events, the Cultural Competency Task Force has been busy formulating a meaningful education curriculum for our profession.  On August 19, 2020, ASA/NCCAOM hosted the first of many events with a virtual town hall entitled “Conversations Around Racism, Bias, Equity and the Acupuncture Profession.  The next event will be a day long webinar on October 24th as part of Acupuncture Medicine Day. Read more about how you can participate inside this newsletter.

Newsletter TOC

Lastly, the newsletter has undergone some re-construction to make your reading experience easier.  This newsletter introduces a Table of Contents featuring direct links to each section making navigation between articles of interest faster than scrolling thru the whole newsletter. Special thanks to Zeyiad Elias and Christine Cronin for making this a reality.

We are facing interesting times and thus, the ASA will be constantly evolving to meet the needs and challenges of the profession.  Enjoy this month’s double issue and join the ASA “construction crew” so you can be part of building our profession’s road to success!


Olivia Hsu Friedman
ASA Chair

Major ASA Developments
The ASA and the acupuncture profession was awarded a $121,000 grant by The David and Lura Lovell Foundation for the U.S. Acupuncture Profession Planning Project, led by Jennifer Stone. The David and Lura Lovell Foundation is well-known for funding Dr. Andrew Weil’s University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Center and The Bravewell Collaborative, which supports the advancement of integrative medicine in science and policy. 

The purpose of the planning project is to collectively define ASA’s vision, its mission and how we want to use our resources to materialize what we want for the future of ASA, JASA and the profession. The project involves qualitative and quantitative research, and the final product produced will be a strategic plan based on all the collected information. The strategic plan will be used as a guideline for what we will do and how we use our resources in the future. This first year is meant to serve as the foundation, so we can apply for funding for future initiatives from Lovell and other philanthropic foundations that fund integrative medicine initiatives.
On July 15, 2020, ASA held the first of four strategic planning workshops to collect input from Council members that will inform the ASA’s 5-year strategic plan. The meeting was held by Zoom from 7pm – 9pm Eastern Time. Goals for the meeting were to: 
  • Get member input on our preferred future as an organization. Members were asked to envision success and achievements over the next 5 years.
  • Identify goals for the next 5 years. 
  • Identify the organizations’ shared values.
The additional strategic planning workshops are scheduled as follows:

Workshop #2 will be held on November 18, 2020 at 7-9pm EST. The focus will be on REALITY.
Workshop #3 will be held on January 13, 2021 at 7-9 pm EST. Its focus will be OPPORTUNITY. 
Workshop #4 will be held on March 3, 2021 at 7-9pm EST. The focus will be on our WAY FORWARD.

What We Are Doing Now
Advocacy Committee
Chair, Jennifer Broadwell

The ASA Advocacy Committee is getting ready to move forward with the goals of our charter. 

We are developing a strategy to pursue recognition under Medicare as practitioners. We will be creating a grassroots advocacy campaign for each member state organization to engage members and educate the public as we pursue inclusion in the Social Security Act. 

We are currently vetting members for this committee. If you are passionate about advocating for your profession, are willing to dedicate your time and effort to advancing LAc’s, and work and communicate well with others, please complete the Committee Application. Experience with state or federal legislative work is preferred. You can find out more about us at 

External Communications Committee
Chair, Lindy Camardella

This has been an active month for the ECC!  We followed up with the CDC comments regarding acupuncture as an effective treatment for pain, as they are looking for 100 stakeholders to interview by phone and discuss acute and chronic pain management.  I was also interviewed by Under Amour; they are highlighting Auricular Acupuncture and weight loss. 

More buzz is being generated about our medicine and we are in need of at least four more people to join our committee so we can respond to everything in a timely manner and start having meetings. It is an exciting committee where you get to collaborate on projects, make a great impact on our profession, and give your creativity an outlet. Watch this video to learn more about what makes the External Communications Committee a great committee to serve on: ECC Committe Movie - HD
Governance Committee
Chair, Zeyiad Elias

The Governance Committee (GC) is ready to accept applicants for members. To learn more, please visit the "Committees" page on the ASA website. You will find the GC's charter detailing its purpose, structure, expecations, and first year goals. If you are interested in serving on this integral committee, please complete the application.

Herbal Committee
Chair, Linda Robinson-Hidas

The ASA Herbal Medicine Committee has been focused on creating policies and procedures to ensure the best use of our volunteer’s time. 

We are also continuing the work creating documents such as the ASA best practices for prescribing herbal medicine during the COVID-19 crisis. All ASA BOD approved documents for publication can be found on the ASA website.

We are looking for new members for the newly formed media response working group who will survey mainstream media and respond appropriately. The time requirements of this position can be tailored to fit the member’s needs after an initial training. 

The purpose of the Media Response Working Group is to survey mainstream media and respond appropriately. Below is a list of what is needed to create an online resource document to help guide our responses as well as what is needed from each of our responders:

Build an organized online resource document which contains:
  • Common misinformation that has been spread before
  • Prepared responses for common misinformation
  • Links to quality resources, documentation and statements
  • Plug and play scripts for making online response comments
  • Contact list of subject experts who can be alerted to specific issues

Create a core team of responders. Responders will:
  • Collect and build resources listed above
  • Monitor news and social media feeds looking for issues
  • Network on social media asking for support to find issues
  • Have authority to respond quickly on behalf of the ASA
  • Will coordinate with each other to formulate additional responses
  • Will document all online responses for review by the ASA board

If you are interested in participating in the Media Response Working Group, please email

Insurance Committee
Chair, Mori West

In April of 2020, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS” or “Medicare”) released the pricing for acupuncture CPT codes 97810, 97811, 97813 and 97814. This followed the January announcement that Medicare will begin covering acupuncture for chronic low back pain.

In response, TriWest (one of two companies that processes claims for veterans) began immediately reducing their reimbursement amounts and submitting recoupment requests to providers for processed claims. (Optum, the other company, is currently taking over claims processing for TriWest; they sent their providers a notice that they will be using Medicare reimbursement rates effective September 1, 2020.) The ASA Insurance Committee received many complaints from providers about these changes and set forth to investigate. 

Over the past several months, the ASA Insurance Committee has been reaching out to TriWest to address our members’ concerns and gain greater clarity regarding their claims processing procedures. Our initial attempts were disregarded, but we persisted and now have great news to report. 

TriWest confirmed that they are obligated by their contract with the VA to pay claims using Medicare methodology. They calculate the rates as follows: Published Medicare rates for service minus the contracted percent reduction, and then further reduced the claims by 15% based on Medicare's Reimbursement Methodology for mid-level providers. (In addition, modalities are also subject to a multiple procedure reduction.) 

In response to our inquiries,TriWest contacted the VA to request an exemption to some of the Medicare rules. Triwest informed us that the "VA responded with authority for TriWest to remove the mid-level provider reduction required by Medicare." TriWest is now in the process of reprogramming their claims processing system, and will not apply the 15% reduction for acupuncture claims for dates of service beginning September 1. However, TriWest did not provide information about whether they would reimburse claims reduced prior to September 1st or follow up on our other claims processing concerns as of yet. 

We are continuing to converse with TriWest. In addition, ASA Insurance Committee has been in contact with Veterans Affairs to request their facilitation and willingness to serve as advocates on our behalf. We will report the results of our conversations in an upcoming newsletter. 

Member Benefits Committee
Chair, Amy Lewis

The Member Benefits Committee will be responsible for creating opportunities to attract new members to state associations as well as improve loyalty and excitement about being a current member. These benefits can be varied and its important for us to know a. what our members would like to see in the way of benefits and b. help the state associations get the word out regularly about these benefits to attract new members and retain current members.

Our first year goals are:

1. Survey membership to find out which benefits are most attractive.

2. Streamline benefits (and the vendors who provide them) to have better negotiating power as a national organization and to take the burden from each state to negotiate their own benefits.

3. Identify and deliver new, high value benefits for members

4. Create a partner (vendor) database so that we can better manage relationships and keep an organizational memory so that we can strategically strengthen our corporate and institutional partners.

5. Assist other committees as needed to help accomplish (conference and communication, for example) to strengthen and streamline the overall operation of the ASA.

Mentorship Program 
Chair, Christine Cronin

Do you love teaching but hate worrying about the test at the end?  We agree with you and would love to have you be a mentor for the ASA Mentorship Program.

Currently, we have placed 12 mentors and 12 mentees and I only have 3 mentors and 5 mentees who have completed orientation left to place. With orientation now being a recorded rather than live event, I expect that number of mentees requiring placement to increase significantly. Needless to say, we really need mentors, especially those with a  strong herbal background. Additionally, since most mentees would like to follow their mentor in clinic, it is very important that mentors carry malpractice insurance. I know some states do not require acupuncturists to carry malpractice insurance, however, for this program it is needed. 

To begin the process, the following documents need to be either completed or reviewed by all Mentors and Mentees: 

1. A Google Form titled ASA Mentor/Mentee Program Agreement (that we need you to complete)


2. Two Google documents (for review) 

As stated above, we also made an improvement to the program, we made the orientation a recording instead of live and made it shorter in order to ensure everyone has the same base of information coming into this program. For the orientation piece, I ask each of you to do the following:

1. Please watch the orientation video (I am happy to report that it is just under 4 minutes long): ASA Mentorship Orientation Video and;

2. Read over the Orientation pdf (11 slides)

3. Lastly, please complete the ASA Mentorship Program-Orientation Completion Form

Once these steps are completed, I can start matching each of you with a mentee. Almost all mentees who have attended orientation, have been placed. If a mentee or mentor has not been placed, it is because I have not found a good fit for that specific mentor or mentee yet.

Also, to everyone, but especially to our new graduates and those who are looking for a change, please do not forget to check out our ASA Job Openings Board. Over 90+ pages in state alphabetical order of positions and practices for sale.  

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at

Nominating Committee
Chair, Sarah Prater

The Nominating Committee has finalized the details of the new Committee Application. We are hopeful this application and process will help us vet and place applicants on committees where their skills are best utilized. If you are interested in doing committee work, please complete the application

We also continued work on an updated confidentiality policy. We believe the council should weigh in on how much confidentiality they want and need on our email list, so we are starting with a council discussion. We trust this discussion and the pending vote will guide the creation and implementation of a new policy that will guide the actions of state representatives and facilitate discussion on ASA policy for many years to come. 

The Nominating Committee is also continuing work to seek and vet qualified candidates for the ASA board with hopes that we have a ready pool of qualified applicants when positions on the board become available. If you are interested in applying to be an ASA board member, please reach out via email. We are also working with various states to support them through the application process to become ASA members. We look forward to increasing our membership and encourage interested states to reach out to learn more about the application process. 

Lastly, we are in search of one additional committee member. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Nominating Committee, please send us an email. Our email is: 

Student Committee
Chair, Alex Russell

Our committee met on July 7th and had many major issues to discuss. It’s been a busy yet uncertain month for students. Mainly we discussed cultural competency, Medicare inclusion, and international student restrictions. On the latter, a committee member was quick to create a resource document for students which was shared with the board. The international restrictions have since been resolved but we are ready to support students with resources however we can. 

The majority of our time was on Medicare inclusion and clearing up any rumors students were hearing/had. I encouraged them to stick with the ASA/ HPAI resources, read over the Medicare fact sheet and ask any questions before participating in the survey. 

We were reached out to and asked to appoint a student to represent the student committee for a cultural competency group. Further updates TBD.

I had a meeting with CCAOMs Student Affairs Committee and look forward to working together. We discussed trying to have something positive to share with students and decided to focus on sending schools information about the ASA Mentorship program. 

I also attended the TBI communications strategic planning meeting and will continue to stay involved in that.

Our committee is still navigating how to support students through all the uncertainty right now. Many students are looking to us, the state associations and the ASA for support. Please don’t forget to check in with your students right now. 

Thanks to Christine, almost all mentees who have attended orientation, have been placed. If a mentee or mentor has not been placed, it is because she has not found a good fit yet. Please encourage students to reach out to if they would like to sign up.  

AUGUST Update: Students are looking for support as they start or return for their fall semester, there are many unknowns and supportive communication is key. Take this time to reach out to the area or surrounding schools. Many students benefited from Lunch and Learn style meet and greets last year. These can easily be set up virtually and only take about 1 hour. Take this opportunity to discuss the important topics-Who we are and why they should join their State Association. Our committee met Tuesday, August 12th. I shared the update on the decision for Medicare Inclusion and encouraged them to take and pass along the Cultural Competency Survey. Thank you so much to all the State Associations who took time to fill out the student data spreadsheet. We are reviewing the comments and will reach out to those who added questions. Currently, we are looking for three enthusiastic and driven students to join our committee. Please reach out to Alex at 

VA / DOD Course Program
Chair, Christine Cronin

On August 20, 2020, The DOD/VA Orientation Course Committee met with NCCAOM to begin to outline our possible areas of responsibility for creating a 5 module course that focus on the following areas: Military Rank Structure/Military Culture, Patient Care, Medical Knowledge, Inter-Professional Communication/Professionalism and System Based Practice. These modules can be taken as individual courses or as a course series. This was done so that the series would have broader appeal and serve more of our profession. Our next meeting with take place on October 1, 2020. Thank you to Amy Mager, Leslie Smith, Jason Sargis, Patrick Sonnenberg, Erin Raskin and Heather Klein for serving on this committee as well as Mina Larson, Iman Majd and Nicholas Dougherty for their willingness to discuss working with us on this course series. 

ASA Joint Developments

NCCAOM & ASA Acupuncture Medicine Cultural Competency Task Force 

There has been a deluge of commentary and calls for action within the profession over the last several months to address racism, understand how it manifests within our profession and how we, as a collective, can root it out. The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a spotlight on the systemic racism and significant disparities in healthcare outcomes amongst those who have borne the brunt of these societal issues. 

The NCCAOM and ASA recognized the need to respond with action.  Simply stating Black Lives Matter means nothing without self-reflection, evolution, and action.  The organizations have jointly established The Acupuncture Medicine Cultural Competency Task Force to assess and create a framework and/or a platform to address racism and bias in our profession so that we may be better practitioners, more respectful peers, more enlightened teachers, and more receptive students.  Afua Bromley, immediate past chair of the NCCAOM and LiMing Tseng, Board member of the ASA have teamed up to lead this Task Force.  Ultimately, it is a matter of ethical responsibility to our patients and our colleagues to treat each person with respect and human dignity.

We thank those of you who attended our Town Hall on August 19, 2020, as we start this conversation together. Recording of this Town Hall and the Powerpoint can be viewed here on our website. 

This Task Force will be continuing our conversation as we celebrate Acupuncture Medicine Day on October 24th with an upcoming webinar on that day. Please stay tuned for more details.


Acupuncture Medicine Day has been celebrated annually since October 24, 2002. This day is celebrated to help increase public awareness of the benefits of our medicine. We are encouraging everyone to host events for your community on this day. Let your creativity guide the celebrations! Whether it is a Facebook live taiji class, or Zoom class on the benefits of acupuncture, or an outdoor physically distanced day of acupuncture demonstrations, let us know about it here

Let’s celebrate together as we continue to educate and share our medicine with those who may not be familiar with it. We will share the listing of events so that we can inspire each other (and maybe take a few Zoom qigong classes today that day). 

Additionally, in order to promote our medicine, the ASA and NCCAOM are hosting a Video Contest to promote acupuncture safety, community access, and diversity! Click here for more information. You will receive 2 PDAs for creating and uploading your video! Three winners will be chosen (1 in each category). The winners will each receive an NCCAOM recertification voucher (worth $290).

Please send questions to

Visit our website
In Memoriam: Hugh MacPherson


Dr. Hugh MacPherson (1948-2020)

The ASA is so grateful for the work of the late Dr. Hugh MacPherson. In his 40 years in our field, Dr. MacPherson has left a profound legacy.  In addition to being a man of many talents, his acupuncture research has been instrumental in bringing acupuncture policy change by documenting acupuncture’s safety and its cost-efficacy with large scale clinical trials published in prestigious journals such as the British Medical Journal. 

Some of us were fortunate enough to have met him at the Society for Acupuncture Research conferences over the years, as he was a long-term SAR Board member. SAR’s tribute along with others was collected in a book to celebrate his career, when he retired in July 2020, as Chair of the Board of the Northern College of Acupuncture. 

In the words of Dr. Ted Kaptchuk: 

“Hugh’s contributions are staggering. His publications include foundational meta-analyses, landmark randomized controlled trials, important methodology papers, provocative theoretical papers, major policy papers, valuable cost-effective analyses, unique survey research, groundbreaking qualitative research, and innovative neuroscience work.”

We encourage acupuncturists to celebrate Dr. MacPherson’s legacy, by studying his work and letting it inspire us - to use his research to help strengthen our medicine as well as to help our medicine be more accessible. A list of Dr. MacPherson’s work can be found on his website:
Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Health and Medicine COVID-19 Support Registry

The ASA along with other groups collaborated with the research team to ensure that the questions reflect East Asian Medicine (EAM) approaches to treatments. It only takes 3-5 minutes to complete the survey for each patient!

  1. The purpose is to gather data that demonstrates that EAM practitioners are indeed working during the COVID-19 pandemic; and that EAM therapies are being used to support patients with COVID-19 symptoms.

  2. Health services data like this may be useful (now, and in future) to lobby legislators/regulators to consider whether EAM practitioners should be deemed essential healthcare workers.

  3. Fill it out NOW during Phase 1 / Round 1 of the pandemic in case data is needed to support professional advocacy for possible future Phases / Rounds of shutdown.

This is a global project! Please support our EAM practitioners all over the world by participating as we are all in similar situations professionally.

Access to Registry

A Special Thanks to Our Sponsors
ASA Sponsor, Treasure of the East, has a new website!  ASA members can enjoy 20% off your first order with the promo code WELCOMEONLINE20.

Below are paid advertisements. The American Society of Acupuncturists does not endorse or evaluate any of the below products or services.
State Association Updates


CSOMA Requests CDPH to List Acupuncturists as "Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers"

On July 21, CSOMA sent an open letter to the California Department of Public Health to request the listing of Acupuncturists as Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers. 

Athletic Bill AB1592 CAB Letter CSOMA informs Assemblymember Rob Bonta of its objections to the Athletic Trainers Bill regarding "dry needling" and scope of practice

Continuing Education Live Webinars – FREE for CSOMA Members
  • August 27: Marc Sklar & Aimme Rauup: “From Clinic to Online” 
  • September 10: Katrina Hanson: 3 Steps for a More LGBT Inclusive Practice (note date change from July 30).
CSOMA Board of Directors Votes Unanimously to Change Corporate Name 

In August, we had a virtual walk called Reconnect with Nature.

Corrections were made to our website and we found ways to ensure that members are getting listed automatically on the Find an Acupuncturist Page.

ILSA's goal is to increase our membership by 5 new members every month. 

The ASM has some exciting new developments to share with you regarding providing acupuncture to MassHealth members. Members of the ASM Board of Directors and ASM members had a meaningful and productive meeting with MassHealth officials today facilitated by Liz Gipson, Managing Director of Clinical Policy at MassHealth.

We discussed the provision of physician supervision which currently prevents many acupuncturists from providing services to MassHealth patients. While MassHealth has had coverage for acupuncture, acupuncturists were not able to bill directly, and needed to be under the supervision of an MD in order to have treatments covered.

This meeting has taken years to facilitate. The ASM started advocating for this change in policy in 2013, under the leadership of ASM past chair Rebecca Schirber. In continued efforts, please see Linda Robinson Hidas’ letter to Governor Baker in 2015: AOMSM pres letter re MassHealth proposed regs 12-13.pdf

We had a significant and productive conversation today that gives hope for policy revisions within MassHealth. MassHealth is working to include coverage of acupuncture, billable by licensed acupuncturists who are working as independent clinicians, by July 2021. The policy is to include coverage for 20 acupuncture visits without prior authorization for the treatment of pain, nausea (from the causes of chemotherapy, pregnancy or surgery), and substance use disorders. These are the same conditions the ASM has asked for coverage from the Division of Insurance ASM Response to DOI and which are covered under bill S1283, now in the Ways and Means Committee of the Senate.

Explore the 8 Extraordinary Vessels and their use in the diagnosis and treatment of psycho-emotional disorders with the author of "Psycho-Emotional Pain and the Eight Extraordinary Vessels" published by Singing Dragon in 2016. 

MiSA will receive a 25% commission on all Fall Seminar purchases made through the following links only. This fundraising opportunity will help MiSA with its ongoing lobbying efforts for licensure.



For more details and registration, click here 


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