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From the Chair of the American Society of Acupuncturists

Dear Colleagues:

Winston Churchill once said, “To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.”

Given this month’s events, it is clear our world not only needs us to change, but it is begging us to strive harder toward perfection. 

Cultural Competence

As protests spread nation- and world-wide following the death of George Floyd, we are all examining our unrealized biases and trying to better understand the depths of systemic racism.  Recognizing the need to thoughtfully present this very complex topic in a well-considered manner, the ASA and NCCAOM have been diligently exploring the best pathways to develop a cultural competence program specifically for our profession. While some are demanding immediacy, we demand quality which requires process.  When we formulate a program that we can be proud of, we will happily share more details.

Medicare Opt-Out

Another big call to change stems from the CMS decision to include acupuncture for low back pain:  Are L.Ac.’s ready to take their rightful place in the federal medical system and reap the benefits of being a recognized part of mainstream medicine? For those of you who joined the 6/24 Medicare town hall, we have since discovered that opt-out is automatic when a group becomes identified as a Medicare Practitioner.  This new material was presented at the beginning of the 7/1 town hall (a recording of 7/1 is HERE).  If ASA were to pursue Medicare inclusion, this is the designation we would request.  This means individual practitioners would be able choose to opt-out and still treat Seniors as well as charge cash at the practitioner’s discretion. 

Inside this newsletter, please read the NCCAOM lobbyist’s statement explaining opt-out as well as the Revised Medicare Educational Brief with additions highlighted in yellow.  Because this new information will likely change many ASA member practitioners opinions, the old survey link has been disabled and ASA state members have been sent a new survey.  

If you are an ASA state member, please complete a new Medicare survey and voice the long-term change you want to see in our profession.  The ASA state delegates will be voting on your state’s behalf on July 23rd to decide if the ASA will pursue Medicare inclusion.

New Business Models

Our last biggest change comes with going back to work under new conditions. Many of us are being challenged to pivot to new business models to survive and thrive. The July 1st ASA/NCCAOM town hall  our final episode for the season, will share the results of the COVID-19 Workforce Survey.  The impact of COVID-19 has prompted lots of deep professional soul searching and feelings of unease.  But always remember, we are the masters of coaxing pernicious forces into balance.  We are the experts of providing alternative solutions to conventional problems.  And we are the champions of removing stagnation, freeing up potential and promoting a more vigorous life force.

So, colleagues, let’s embrace our innate ability to cultivate worthwhile and life promoting change.  And let’s not only change.  Let’s move this profession toward perfection, together!

Best,

Olivia Hsu Friedman DACM, LAc
Chair, American Society of Acupuncturists

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The ASA & NCCAOM would like to share additional information regarding how Medicare recognition would affect the acupuncture profession. We hope to provide some clarity as there were a few statements from our June 24, 2020 ASA & NCCAOM Town Hall that led to confusion.
 
Why acupuncturists opt-out cannot be compared to chiropractors and physical therapists
Please read Medicare Recognition's Effect on the Acupuncture Profession : Additional Information
The ASA and NCCAOM working together to root out bias, discrimination and oppression in the medical field

Several weeks ago, following the murder of George Floyd and resulting protests calling for an end police brutality and systemic racism, the ASA and NCCAOM issued a joint statement regarding our individual and collective organizational commitment to anti-racist practices that root out bias, discrimination and oppression in the medical field. Our statement in no way was a detraction from the fact that Black Lives Matter. Words mean nothing without action and meaningful action is imperative. In the ensuing weeks, we have begun the process of reflection, dialogue and planning for concrete ways in which our two organizations can create real and lasting change in our profession. Please stay tuned for updates.
 
The Latest - What the ASA Committees are doing right now!
Insurance Committee - Mori West, Chair

The world of health care is changing, and the ASA Insurance Committee has been operating in high gear to help acupuncturists keep up. We have conducted research nationwide on telemedicine policies, dry needling policies, and Evaluation & Management billing policies. We have participated in the CMS discussions, conducted outreach to Medicare and private insurance carriers alike. We have devised strategies for navigating these complex administrative issues that we now face together as a profession. Communication and collaboration are the keys to success. The ASA Insurance Committee is building a network for success. To facilitate a unified front and the rapid dissemination of resources, a communication pipeline has been created. Each state organization now has a designated insurance representative to connect you to the ASA Insurance Committee. Your state designated insurance representative will receive information and resources directly from the ASA Insurance Committee to disseminate locally. Likewise, your insurance questions and concerns can be channeled through your state representative back to the ASA Insurance Committee. Communication through this state representative network will help us to monitor and respond to issues acupuncturists are facing across the country, as well as assist in the development of local insurance experts. Find your state insurance contact here.  The ASA Insurance Committee may also be contacted at insurance@ASAcu.org 

Herbal Committee - Linda Robinson-Hidas, Chair

The ASA Herbal Medicine Committee is continuing its work creating documents such as the ASA Best Practices for Prescribing Herbal Medicine during the COVID-19 crisis. As soon as documents are approved by the ASA BOD for publication, you will find them on the ASA website.

Governance Committee - Zeyiad Elias, Chair

At the suggestion of some ASA members, and in line with the next stages of ASA development, the Governance Committee recently completed a charter outlining its purpose and description. This will clarify the role of the committee and provide expectations for potential members. This document will accompany a solicitation for volunteers. With my transition into the role of VC of Operations, and the association’s growth into its new structure, the GC will also need a new chair.

As mentioned in prior posts, the GC’s current emphasis is on creating more policies and procedures. We’re looking for qualified individuals and a committee leader to help develop these. Please keep an eye out for a request for volunteers in the near future.


Mentorship Program Committee - Christine Cronin, Chair

Many thanks to Alex Russell who continues to assist me every single time I ask for anything regarding this program. We have placed 11 mentees with mentors. Have an immediate need for mentors with a herbal background and who specialize in women's health. Besides continuing to find mentors for mentees, my next goal is to create more expanded mentor/mentee orientation recording so everyone can be placed and participate without waiting for the next scheduled orientation. 

If you have ever wanted to guide a student without being worried about the test afterward, now is your chance. Anyone who is interested in being a mentor or a mentee, please contact Christine Cronin at secretary@asacu.org. Thank you for all you do for the profession!

VA/DOD Orientation Course Committee - Christine Cronin, Chair

A special thank you for everyone who have gotten this five module course to where it is now: Amy Mager, Leslie Smith, Patrick Sonnenberg, Jason Sargis, Erin Raskin and Heather Klein. Currently, we are in the process of making assessments for Module 1 and 2 as well as locating resources for Modules 3, 4, and 5. The five module course will consist of modules based of Military Rank Structure/Military Culture, Patient Care, Medical Knowledge, Interpersonal Communication Skills and Professionalism as well as Systems Based Practice.

Conference Committee - LiMing Tseng, Chair
 Student Committee - Alexandria Russell, Chair

The ASA Student committee met on June 9th and discussed changing our charter language to reflect the updated structure of the ASA. We voted and discussed the changes with Amy Mager, ASA Vice Chair and Board Liaison to the Student Committee. An email and update has been sent to the Governance Committee. 

Our Student Committee has expressed concerns that our profession incorporates additional cultural competency and higher professional standards for our organization. We are working closely with Amy on updates from the Board. 

The ASA Mentorship program had its second orientation June 4th with great success. Christine is working diligently to get students placed. Students are so grateful for this opportunity, especially during these times students are really looking to professionals for mentorship and guidance. Thank you to all who have volunteered to be mentors, the students are very grateful! 

We are in the process of looking for three additional student leaders to join our student committee. Please connect with our student committee if you have any nominations! Our email is students@asacu.org. If you have students who would like to connect with our committee, please reach out to us! 

Follow us on instagram @asastudents!

 
Check out the ASA COVID-19 Resource Page
The ASA Job Openings Board encourages all submissions which promote gainful employment in our profession. Please submit your job postings to Christine@asacu.org As a reminder, please let me know when you no longer want the job posting on the board. I do not remove them until you tell me to do so.  

Thank you for all you do for our profession.
 
Visit the ASA Job Openings Board
Have you treated patients who have been exposed to COVID-19? Please share your experiences in the NUNM/Helfgott 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
Come and check out the official Journal of the American Society of Acupuncturists
Visit our website
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ASA Members: State Associations in Action

Dear Colorado acupuncture community:

This newsletter is jam packed with important and useful information. Please take the time to read all of it. Keep your eyes on your inbox for follow up calls for action.

Dr. Liz Lovefury, DAOM, LAc.
President, Acupuncture Association of Colorado

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Triwest News from ASA

The ASA confirmed Triwest are STOPPING recoupment efforts.  We were told to allow 45 days for all recoupment issues to be straightened out.  At this time they are using an April start date for Medicare rates.  More to follow as we are addressing other issues with Triwest.

From The ASA Insurance Committee

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In addition to the information sent out in the last newsletter regarding signing up with Tivity to be a VA provider, Elizabeth McBride from Tivity sent the following info.  TriWest will be responsible for training webinars for credentialed providers and acupuncturists will need to register for an account with Availity. 

REGISTER HERE

To access the CCN Provider Handbook and quick reference guides, go to Availity at www.availity.com.  You will need to log in to your account If you do not have one, you can register for free. Navigate to the TriWest Payer Space and either take the CCN training by clicking on the “TriWest Learning Center” or access the CCN Provider Handbook and quick reference guides.
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The CDC put out a request for comments regarding the management of acute and chronic pain.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/04/17/2020-08127/management-of-acute-and-chronic-pain-request-for-comment

From the CDC:

Public comment will help CDC's understanding of stakeholders' values and preferences regarding pain management and will complement CDC's ongoing work assessing the need for updating or expanding the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain

Tuesday Wasserman, the AAC Board member who is the ASA representative for the AAC has created a research based extensive response. You can read it here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dEwtXIhA8J1Lq-esQDrSxeRn0Ov8DWKoCaKbwCJtw2Y/edit

 

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Donations

Water Mama Acupuncture is offering auriculo-acupressure kits for those supporting protests or otherwise supporting actively dismantling systemic racism, prosecution for police murders and brutality, and making sure that ALL Americans receive justice and fair treatment - #blacklivesmatter. If this describes you, send a message via watermama.org (@watermamaacupuncture on Facebook ) with your email address (for access to video instructions) and your mailing address to send the ear seeds kit. 

If anyone wants to add to the number of kits available, Water Mama is accepting donations of ear pellets, envelopes, and money to purchase stamps and more ear pellets. Please contact Dr. Rhonda Coleman, DAOM, Owner, Water Mama Acupuncture directly through the above links.

____________________________________________________________

Did you Know?

AAC members are entitled to various discounts such as 5% off Lhasa OMS products.

For more info and to see more AAC discounts, please visit: https://acucol.com/Member-Benefits
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URGENT ACTION NEEDED! Protect Patient Access in Colorado!

HB20-1085 Action Alert Email

As a reminder to the email that went out last week, urgent action is needed regarding upcoming House Bill 20-1085. Current policies create barriers for patients seeking alternative treatment. In most cases, it's easier and less expensive for physicians to prescribe opioids and for patients to receive opioids. House Bill 20-1085 remedies this by ensuring that all health benefit plans provide coverage for at least six alternative therapy visits at a co-pay amount not to exceed the regular amount charged for a primary care visit.

ACTION NEEDED!

Please contact the Governor’s office (and ask your patients to as well!) to let him know you want him to sign the bill into law!

Email Governor Polis: governorpolis@state.co.us
Call Governor Polis: 303-866-2885

Please note: We recommend all members also look up their legislators and send to them, as pressure from grassroots + legislators = PRICELESS.

https://leg.colorado.gov/find-my-legislator

Here is a sample letter and script for you to use:

Governor Polis,

As a Colorado constituent, I am contacting you to request your support in signing HB 20-1085 into law, which provides access for Coloradans to skilled rehabilitative services as an alternative to opioid use.

Over 500 (drugabuse.gov) Coloradans are losing their lives annually to opioids, with a frequent starting point for opioid use being musculoskeletal pain. When a physician visit to obtain an opioid is cheaper than addressing the underlying pain, we have a significant problem. This bill works to address this issue by mirroring copays with primary care to expand access to those in need.

Complimentary care providers, including Acupuncturists, are able to provide a skilled alternative to opioids. Further data shows increasing access to these providers prevents opioid use.

HB 20-1085, with bipartisan support from the Colorado House and Senate, increases patient access to these skilled rehabilitative services by ensuring all health plans provide a minimum of six visits of unrestricted coverage.

Your support of this very important legislation is greatly appreciated,

Respectfully,
(your name)
(your county)
(your zip code)

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How to Get Involved with ASA
State Association Membership:

There are many avenues to being involved with the American Society of Acupuncturists. To enjoy the full benefits of membership, we encourage Licensed Acupuncturists to join their state association that is a member of ASA. You are considered a member of the ASA at no additional charge. State Associations that are currently members of ASA can be found here. State associations who are interested in membership with ASA may contact our Board Member at Large LiMing Tseng at Li@asacu.org.

Other Ways to Be Involved:

Licensed Practitioners and Acupuncture Students who are unaffiliated with state associations may receive information about the state and federal regulatory and legislative environments, along with newsworthy announcements about the acupuncture industry by becoming an Associate of the ASA. Options for sitting on the Council, serving on Committees, or voting are not included in this option. For more information, please contact ASA Secretary Dr. Christine Cronin, DAOM, L.Ac at
Secretary@asacu.org You may also sign up to receive information directly at www.asacu.org.

To Sign Up for Membership & Support Online, Visit Our Website:

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