September 2020 Newsletter

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From the Chair

Dear Colleagues,

As the vibrant energy of summer recedes and the autumn foliage begins to peak, the seasons remind us that healthy things grow, and growing things change.

COVID-19 Economic Relief

This month, we hoped to host a town hall announcing details of Cares Act IV.  However, Congress remains challenged to arrive at an agreement and is now focused on replacing the late, honorable Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The ASA recognizes that our profession continues to face pandemic-related challenges and hardships. To adapt to these changes, we have partnered with the NCCAOM once again to provide the most current information regarding existing resources to support acupuncturists during these times. Please click the following link for more information: Continued Guidance for COVID-19 Economic Relief for Acupuncturists.  

Medicare Update

The ASA and NCCAOM are regularly meeting to discuss the short- and long-term strategies required for our profession to make Medicare inclusion a reality.  This process will likely take years and hinges greatly on our ability to prove to policy makers that acupuncture is a cost-effective service.  Every bill requires a score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). For our bill to succeed, the CBO must score acupuncture for low back pain as a cost-saving or a cost-neutral initiative. This can be achieved by an organized effort to gather and present available data demonstrating that acupuncture treatments cost less than surgery and opioids and, simultaneously, that patients show more progress with acupuncture.  Only after achieving a worthwhile CBO score will the ASA/NCCAOM be able to look to the profession to provide grassroots advocacy and to message our value to legislators.  Therefore, please be patient and work with us, so the entire profession can retain a unified effort. Additionally, stay informed by reading our monthly articles featured in Acupuncture Today, real time posts on the ASA website, and the “National News” ticker on state websites on the web platform.  Here is this week's update.

Oct 24 – Acupuncture Medicine Day

In spite of all the changes we’ve been faced to make in order to survive and thrive in 2020,  our profession continues to make huge contributions to the healthcare system worldwide, has responsibly re-opened to provide healing to so many in need, and is stepping-up to promote improved cultural competence.  For this reason, please celebrate our outstanding medicine by capturing via video your role in making the world a better place.  All participants will be awarded NCCAOM PDAs and the video with the most votes will win 1 free year of NCCAOM Certification.  For more details or to cast your vote on submitted videos, click AM DAY Video Contest . Additionally, read more about the 4 hours of cultural competence coursework that will be presented to further celebrate this day later in this newsletter.

The ASA would also like to thank the over 2,000 respondents to our "Advocate for Acupuncture" Survey. Congratulations to our 5 gift card winners! 

This year has proved that we are all capable of infinite change and growth and our profession will definitely become stronger because of it.  Thanks for your part in making the world healthier, safer, and more aware!


Olivia Hsu Friedman
ASA Chair

Major ASA Developments
CMS Relative Value Unit (RVU) Commentary

Why does this matter?  The Relative Value Unit (RVU) is currently used by Medicare to determine the amount providers are reimbursed. The proposed regulations will decrease payments to acupuncturists by 32%.  Please use the language in the letters and add your own thoughtful, insightful and personal comments. Yesterday, we contacted our acupuncture champion Representative Judy Chu. She has offered to issue comments in defense of the industry and reach out to CMS directly. We thank you Representative Chu!

Comments on the Federal Registry are due October 5, 2020.  We provided sample letters for both practitioners and patients with this link. Please take the time to read this and share it with your fellow practitioners and patients.  

Acupuncture Medicine Day, 2020 Reminder

The annual celebration known as Acupuncture Medicine Day is almost here! 

Saturday, October 24th is the day and this year’s observance is particularly important and unique. Never has our profession faced the challenges that 2020 has presented. However, as a profession we can have a strong voice, can be a catalyst for change and can be a bridge of healing in our hurting world.


This year, as we are mindful of the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage you to celebrate the day and promote your practice through online eventslectures or demonstrations. Register your online celebratory events here. Share the uniqueness of your practice by participating in the ASA-NCCAOM’s Video Voting Contest 2020. Also, do not forget to encourage your patients to enter their own amazing stories of healing through acupuncture treatments on the Testimonials page.

In honor of Acupuncture Medicine Day on October 24th, the ASA and NCCAOM will be hosting a free online event Acupuncture Medicine Day: A Celebration of Diversity & Community in Acupuncture, from 11 AM EDT - 4:30 PM EDT. Practitioners may earn up to 4 NCCAOM PDAs. This event is currently awaiting CAB CEU approval. We will have panel discussions with speakers from non-profit organizations who saw a need in underserved communities, and did what they had to do to provide healthcare to those in need!
Practitioners will learn how cultural competency can positively affect patient safety and efficacy of treatment within our local communities and through global outreach.  Please join us for this informational day as we celebrate Acupuncture Medicine’s diversity and community! 

While a select group of organizations will be highlighted at our event, we are also compiling a list of non-profit Acupuncture Outreach Programs to create a resource list.  If you would like us to include your program, so that others will learn about it, please complete this survey. Upon approval, it will be listed on our non-profit Outreach Programs listing.

This Acupuncture Medicine Day we collectively embrace safety, diversity, and fight for equality and inclusivity - our wholistic medicine embraces the wholeness of all beings. This is YOUR day to share the body, mind and spirit healing power of acupuncture. 

Be the voice, be the bridge, be the change. Be a part of Acupuncture Medicine Day, 2020.
Details may be found through the AM Day website.



What We Are Doing Now
Advocacy Committee
Chair, Jennifer Broadwell

The Advocacy Committee is creating a strategic plan for Licensed Acupuncturists to receive recognition as practitioners under Medicare. Today, Medicare covers over 50 million individuals. By 2030, the program will cover 80 million Americans. Because of Medicare’s size, influence, and scope, Medicare coverage policies influence third-party payer coverage decisions. For that reason, healthcare professions seeking recognition and enhanced reimbursement from third-party payers start with Medicare. We will be providing updates throughout this process on numerous platforms to ensure they are widely available. Please look for our timely updates in Acupuncture Today (both digital and print editions), on our website and on the ASA Facebook Page, in edition to the monthly ASA Newsletter. 

External Communications Committee
Chair, Lindy Camardella

The External Communications Committee (AKA the public relations committee) is actively recruiting for at least 4 new members for the committee; we are ramping up to share all that the ASA is working on and developing, including an overall marketing strategy from current research being done. Because we are focusing on communications that represent all, we are actively looking to include members of the BIPOC community- We would love to hear from you! If you are interested, please apply through Nom Com or reach out to our Committee Chair, Lindy at

Governance Committee
Chair, Zeyiad Elias

After our call for committee members last month, we've begun to receive applicants. We still need more candidates. If you're interested in joining this important committee, helping further develop infrastructure, including policy and operating procedures, please visit our committees page to learn more and apply. It is a great opportunity to further cultivate organizational and leadership skills.

Herbal Committee
Chair, Linda Robinson-Hidas

The Herbal Medicine Committee is continuing to work on clarifying best practices for our profession. Reminder: several acupuncturists have received cease and desist orders from the FDA due to advertising that practitioners are treating COVID-19. Please use the language provided in our best herbal medicine practices during COVID-19

Insurance Committee
Chair, Mori West

The ASA Insurance Committee has been in communication regarding issues associated with the VA CCN program, as administered by Optum and TriWest. The VA confirmed that the effective date for use of the new Medicare reimbursement fee schedule was June 24, 2020.  The VA also confirmed that the Medicare Multiple Modality methodology SHOULD NOT be used for calculating reimbursements. We have received confirmation from Optum that they are in compliance with this implementation. 

We have not received further follow up communication from TriWest. At our last communication, TriWest reiterated their April 1, 2020 start date for the Medicare reimbursement fee schedule.  We are requesting an additional explanation from TriWest as to this start date (as it conflicts with the VA start date of June 24, 2020.)  In addition, TriWest stated that they ceased applying the Medicare Multiple Modality methodology effective September 1, 2020.  TriWest has not yet responded to our request for how they are addressing claims for dates of service prior to September 1, 2020.  We will continue to follow up with them.

We advise all practitioners to not ignore recoupment letters from TriWest.  If you have received a recoupment letter from TriWest, contact them and request clarification of the recoupment. Specifically, ask them to review the recoupment with you to confirm that it does not include incorrect methodology.

In addition to the above, we are in the process of sending out non-disclosure agreements to every state association that has a designated Insurance Liaison.  Once they are returned, we will set a date for our first instructional virtual meeting; the purpose of this meeting will be to provide training about insurance billing as well as disseminate information about the work we are doing at the national level.

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

We need mentors! Those of you who specialize in treating mental emotional disorders and those of you who are herbalists, please come forth! We have placed 30 people together - 15 mentors and 15 mentees since the start of the program. Mentees are benefiting and are grateful, but we still have more mentees to place than we have mentors. The challenge is matching mentors and mentees in the same geographical area and combining with matching specialty as well. In short, we need mentors from all over the country. Please pass on the below flyer to anyone you think may be interested.

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

This month, the Nominating Committee rolled out our new committee application process with a great response. We’ve had 9 applications come in and we are in the process of vetting and recommending them to the corresponding committee chairs. Thank you to everyone who has submitted an application! We are working on streamlining the process to reduce the time between application and placement. The Nominating Committee is currently looking for at least one additional member. Anyone interested in joining an ASA committee should fill out this application. 

The Nominating Committee also vetted the Arkansas Society of Licensed Acupuncturists and then Hawaii Acupuncture Association for an upcoming council vote in October. We continue to work with other associations to help them through the application process. If your state would like to join, please fill out this application

We are always accepting nominations for ASA board members. If you are interested or would like to nominate someone, please reach out to for more information. We like to have a pool of vetted candidates for board positions so they can be filled as quickly as possible when an opening becomes available. 

We are also continuing work on collecting documentation from states that were grandfathered into the ASA. We are specifically looking for bylaws, incorporation documents, and tax status documentation. If your state has not sent in your documentation, please reach out to

Student Committee
Chair, Alex Russell

The Student Committee met on Tuesday September 8th. We want to thank all the state associations who have reached out during this time. It’s been wonderful to connect and hear from you. Thank you! We started off by discussing feedback and thoughts around the August 19th Town Hall. Students, if you have additional thoughts or feedback for our committee we are gathering responses. In highlighting Acupuncture Medicine Day, we are asking any students who serve in any underrepresented communities, please reach out -we want to hear from you. 

We have also been working to streamline the ASA Mentorship Mentee sign up form and have succeeded in creating an easy step by step process. To learn more and receive the form, please email us at 

We were so glad to be able to join FSOMA for their Student Meeting on September 17th. Thank you for having us! If any other state associations would like for us to join in any student meetings or events. please email us. We are happy to offer support and hear from students! 

Currently, we are focusing our projects to create additional student centered resources and support. We were also contacted by SANESA (Student Association of New England School of Acupuncture) and they are hosting a guest speaker through zoom October 7th at 11am ET (Free). For the flyer and more information, please email us. 

To connect with us, please email or follow us on Instagram @asastudents

VA / DOD Course Program
Chair, Christine Cronin

The DOD/VA Orientation Course Committee met with NCCAOM to begin to outline our possible areas of responsibility for creating and promoting 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 in November 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 potentially work with us to bring the course series to an online format. 

Committee Openings
The Nominating Committee has room for 1-2 more people and we really need one more person. Please contact if you are interested.

ASA Joint Developments

NCCAOM and ASA Acupuncture Medicine Cultural Competency Task Force


The NCCAOM and ASA Acupuncture Medicine Cultural Competency Task Force (AMCCTF) was formed to help guide acupuncture medicine stakeholders (institutions, organizations, teachers, practitioners, students, vendors, and others with a role in our profession) to identify and address racism, discrimination, and biases within our profession. These issues are transformative. We hope to provide resources to start a conversation and provide a catalyst for our profession and create a space to collect resources and offer suggestions.  We will share resources but each person and institution needs to do their own assessments on this journey towards cultural competence, so that we may become more effective practitioners, more respectful peers, and more inclusive institutions and organizations.

Cultural competence in healthcare refers to the “ability of practitioners and institutions to provide care to patients with diverse language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, abilities from diverse racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups.” [1]

One example of cultural competency was demonstrated on September 17th, 2020, when the US House of Representatives passed Resolution 908 to denounce anti-Asian sentiments that have been prevalent since the beginning of COVID-19 outbreak. This resolution, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), states that the House of Representatives condemns all manifestations of expressions of racism, xenophobia, discrimination, anti-Asian sentiment, scapegoating, and ethnic or religious intolerance. 

Being culturally competent requires behaviors, attitudes, and policies that support effective interactions in cross-cultural situations.[2]  The need for cultural competency, the elimination of bias, and the promotion of health equity (accessibility and more equitable treatment) are essential to eradicate healthcare disparities in the United States. The ability of a practitioner to effectively communicate with a patient is directly tied to both safety and efficacy of treatment.  A practitioner who is knowingly or unwittingly ignorant can and often will make errors or create circumstances in which a patient’s needs are not met.  This can be ignorance of religious customs (e.g. a diabetic patient who is Muslim during Ramadan will need different recommendations for maintenance of blood sugar) or ignorance as to a lack of available resources (the prevalence of “food deserts” in cities).  Specifically, in the arena of pain management, recent research also reveals that “a substantial number of white laypeople and medical students and residents hold false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites and demonstrates that these beliefs predict racial bias in pain perception and treatment recommendation accuracy”. [3] 

Patient safety events that can result from the failure to address culture, language, and health literacy include diagnostics errors, missed screenings, unexpected negative responses to medication, harmful treatment interactions from simultaneous use of traditional medicines, healthcare-associated infections, adverse birth outcomes, inappropriate care transitions, and inadequate patient adherence to provider recommendations and follow-up visits.[2] 

Systemic problems require individual and collective actions – individual practitioners and the institutions and organizations that train and support them work actively to eradicate any behavior that further perpetuates ongoing healthcare disparities.


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State Association Updates

The Acupuncture Society of Massachusetts is working diligently to create comments to proposed regulation changes. We are also preparing for our annual meeting. Please join us!


Standing Strong in Our Medicine - OAA Annual Conference
NCCAOM CEUS! Michael Max! Advocacy work training! Cultural sensitivity training! Sunday, October 11 9:30 - 3 Come one, come all!


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