With the headquarters move to Washington, D.C., the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM is focused on providing services such as advocacy and public relations to promote our NCCAOM National Board-Certified Acupuncturists™ throughout the U.S. Therefore, the NCCAOM Board of Commissioners and staff are proud to announce that we have retained SmithBucklin’s Government Relations & Advocacy team in D.C. to provide federal advocacy services, further enabling our ability to work with U.S. policymakers and regulators.
As part of our mission “to assure the safety and well-being of the public and to advance the professional practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine by establishing and promoting national evidence-based standards of competence and credentialing,” the NCCAOM is listening to you, our valued Diplomates, by acting on your feedback to us by providing advocacy and support in the federal and state regulatory arena to advance NCCAOM credentials. As such, the NCCAOM Board of Commissioners and staff are committed to providing services such as advocacy and public relations (see NCCAOM Public Education Campaign) to promote our most valued stakeholders, NCCAOM National Board-Certified Acupuncturists™.
The NCCAOM advocacy team is committed to advancing NCCAOM Board-Certified Diplomates in the federal and state regulatory arenas. For more information about NCCAOM advocacy efforts, please contact advocacy team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advocacy Updates Timeline
NCCAOM Advocacy Update Fall 2018
As you know from previous communications, addressing the nationwide opioid crisis has been a priority for the NCCAOM Advocacy Team. Working with the federal government and stakeholders across the health care community to provide expanded access and awareness of acupuncture services for pain management and treating substance use disorders is one of the primary goals for our work with SmithBucklin Advocacy and Government Relations team. We are continue to develop new and innovative strategies to achieve this goal.
On October 24 (AOM Day), President Donald Trump signed the long-awaited omnibus opioid crisis bill, the result of a year of bipartisan legislative efforts in Congress and throughout the health care industry. This legislation, one of the largest bodies of work that Congress has passed this session, will provide the roadmap for the continued response to the crisis over the next several years. NCCAOM will be working carefully with the Administration and Congress to address the portions of this bill that are relevant to the acupuncture community, and we wanted to share an overview of the legislation with our Diplomates to keep the profession informed.
With the headquarters move to Washington, D.C. in the beginning of the year, the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM®) is focused on providing services such as advocacy and public relations to promote our NCCAOM National Board-Certified Acupuncturists™ throughout the U.S. Therefore, the NCCAOM Board of Commissioners and staff are proud to announce that we have retained SmithBucklin’s Government Relations & Advocacy team in D.C. to provide federal advocacy services, further enabling our ability to work with U.S. policymakers and regulators.
Update: Acupuncturists at the Veterans Administration
As part of our mission to serve, the NCCAOM Advocacy Team is committed to maintaining an ongoing relationship with the VA as the Department continues to expand the role of acupuncturists in treating the veteran population.
NCCAOM National Board-Certified Acupuncturists™ may be interested in providing reimbursed acupuncture services for Veterans by applying to TriWest or Health Net to provide services through the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice law, better known as the Veterans Choice Program. This is a public law that provides funding for veterans so they may seek treatment outside of the VA. This program includes coverage of acupuncture. The law stipulates you must live 40 miles away from the nearest VA hospital or be unable to get an appointment within 30 days. However, because there are few acupuncturists currently working at the VA, everyone who qualifies for medical coverage through the Department of Veterans Affairs automatically qualifies for 100% covered acupuncture treatments through the program.
TriWest and Healthnet serve different parts of the country. Look at their websites to see which one serves your area for the Veterans Choice Program for acupuncture services.
Currently, job openings for full-time practitioners in VA health locations will be posted on USAJobs.gov, which contains information on postings as well as instructions to apply. NCCAOM will work to publicize openings as they become available. At this time, the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (the largest facility in the Veterans Integrated Service Network) has four openings for acupuncturists in Tennessee. The posting can be found here. NCCAOM will be providing additional information and resources on working with the VA in the coming months.
NCCAOM® Advocacy Toolkit
The NCCAOM Advocacy Team has also developed an “NCCAOM® Advocacy Toolkit”which will be released soon. The toolkit is designed for NCCAOM National Board-Certified Acupuncturists™ as well as legislators and policymakers. The documents within provide essential information about the potential for acupuncture to be utilized to combat the opioid crisis, in the form of a professional policy white paper, as well as overview documents on acupuncture in general, the NCCAOM, the certification process for Diplomates, and more. The NCCAOM Advocacy Team has crafted these documents to be easily shared with local, state, and federal legislators and their staffs, in support of NCCAOM’s national initiatives as well as any local advocacy work being taken on by Diplomates in their areas. In the coming months, the NCCAOM® Advocacy Toolkit will be published on the NCCAOM website along with additional resources on effective advocacy tips and information about state initiatives involving acupuncture.
Healthcare Leadership Council Partnership and Announcement
As a result of work by the NCCAOM Advocacy team, NCCAOM began partnering with the Healthcare Leadership Council and more than 75 other nationally recognized health care organizations to prepare a set of recommendations for policymakers to address the opioid crisis. This work, resulting in the Opioid Crisis Solutions Summit in May 2018, brought together diverse viewpoints across the health care industry to address the opioid epidemic through a series of focused, actionable recommendations covering the spectrum of care. The NCCAOM, represented by Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kory Ward-Cook, was the only organization representing integrative medicine at this event. The NCCAOM advocated strongly for the inclusion of evidence-based, non-pharmacological pain management therapies like acupuncture in the recommendations, and these were included in the final product, which was released on June 20. More information about the recommendations can be found here. NCCAOM Advocacy was proud to be one of the only representative voices for integrative care and looks forward to continuing to engage with the HLC and its partners and advocate for improved pain management nationwide.
The NCCAOM Advocacy Team has only just begun its work in support of the goals outlined above. Over the second half of this year, we plan to continue to provide resources for Diplomates and engage with external bodies to promote acupuncture and the profession of certified Diplomates across the country. Please feel free to reach out to NCCAOM Advocacy Team at email@example.com with any advocacy or legislative-related questions, comments, or ideas on what will be helpful for you and colleagues to thrive in the profession.
Joe Nahra, Mina Larson and Dr. Kory Ward-Cook at the HLC Opioid Crisis Summit
Louisiana Removes Physician Referral Requirement and Adds NCCAOM Certification
On May 10, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed House Bill No. 421, which amended and reenacted the Louisiana acupuncturist practice act. This bill removed the requirement for licensed acupuncturists to be referred by MDs. This requirement was not only burdensome to acupuncturists, who were required to maintain physician relationships for referral, but also was a barrier to care for patients. Additionally, HB 421 amended the licensure law to require active NCCAOM Diplomate status, as well as successfully passing of the certification exam, to include the Biomedicine module. The NCCAOM was proud to support this legislation (and submitted a letter to the Louisiana Legislature), and applauds the Acupuncture Association of Louisiana for their hard work on developing and advocating for this legislation as well as Representatives Walt Leger and Mark Wright for sponsoring the bill. The law will go into effect August 1. Fusheng Zhao, Valerie Viosca from Acupuncture Association of Louisiana and NCCAOM staff Mina Larson, participated in the Louisiana House Committee on Health and Welfare meeting in April, 2018.
Acupuncturists at the Veterans Administration
One major accomplishment that deserves some emphasis is our ongoing work with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and specifically the Veterans Health Administration. As the result of significant engagement with leadership at the VA, NCCAOM has succeeded in obtaining a newly created qualification standard for acupuncturists to be hired at the VA. Previously, the Department could only hire acupuncturists as contractors, and the agency had only recognized acupuncture as a treatment modality and not a profession. With the new qualification, acupuncturists who are NCCAOM Board-Certified can be appointed as VA practitioners, and provide essential chronic and acute pain care to the millions of veterans covered by the Veterans Health Administration. More information on the details of the new classification can be found here.
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee each formally sought input from stakeholders in the health care industry on ways to address the opioid epidemic, through the Medicare and Medicaid programs as well as more broadly in the areas of data tracking, education, and treatment. The NCCAOM Advocacy team, with the input of the NCCAOM Advocacy Taskforce (comprised of NCCAOM Commissioners Dr. Janet Zand and Matthew Stanley, former NCCAOM Commissioner David Canzone, NCCAOM CEO Dr. Kory Ward-Cook, Executive Deputy Director Mina Larson, John Richardson, SmithBucklin Director, Government Relations and Health Care Practice Group and Joe Nahra, Government Relations Coordinator) developed detailed responses to both requests, providing valuable input as both committees considered legislative responses to the crisis. The letters, which can be found here and here, focused on several major themes. These included reimbursement reform to dis-incentivize cheap but dangerous opioid treatments, expanded education for providers and patients on alternatives to opioids, and a greater emphasis by Medicare, Medicaid, and private payers on coverage for non-pharmacological pain management methodologies, specifically acupuncture.
The NCCAOM is pleased to announce that Bureau of Labor Statistics has published the final 2018 BLS Occupational Handbook with the new Standard Occupational Classification code for Acupuncturists. This handbook is available in its entirety via the following link here. The NCCAOM also announced this exciting in their press release about Acupuncturists Earns Distinction from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.