Acupuncture Gaining Acceptance in Ohio as a Covered Service Under Medicaid


Contact: Sabrina Suarez, Marketing and Communications, (714) 573-0899 (ext.227), [email protected]
Mina Larson, Executive Deputy Director, (703) 314-2908 [email protected]


CLEVELAND, Ohio, Dec. 06, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE), – The Ohio Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (OAAOM) and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)® commend the Ohio Department of Medicaid for including acupuncture as a covered service for low back pain and migraines into the state Medicaid program. Coverage for acupuncture services will take effect January 1, 2018.

Ohio is the first state in the Midwest to provide Medicaid recipients access to covered acupuncture benefits. In May 2017, the Ohio Attorney General sued five prescription drug manufacturers for their role in promoting the opioid epidemic. The OAAOM has been proactively responding to the opiate crisis by promoting the inclusion of acupuncture as a safe, effective and cost-efficient health treatment.

Jared West, president of OAAOM, explains that the inclusion of acupuncture into the Medicaid program is a big milestone forward but limiting the coverage to migraines and low back pain does not adequately reduce the use of opiates across the program and overly limits the potential value acupuncture could provide. “We are excited to be able to add acupuncture to the Ohio Medicaid program and will be working to build this success out to the private marketplace,” said West. “Our association has been pushing Medicaid to include other evidence-based diagnoses that often lead to narcotic prescriptions such as osteoarthritis of the knee, chronic pain, and postoperative pain.”

Devastated by the opioid crisis, Americans have been experiencing an increase in addiction to prescription pain relievers. According to the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 11 million Americans misused prescription opioids in 2016, nearly 1 million used heroin, and 2.1 million had an opioid use disorder due to prescription opioids or heroin. Ohio has been particularly hit hard with overdose deaths increasing from 3,050 in 2015 to 4,050 last year according to the Ohio Department of Health. An average of 11 people died each day of drug overdoses last year in Ohio.

Acupuncture is a viable evidence-based solution to the opioid crisis America is currently facing. According to a 2015 study by Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University, repeated acupuncture treatment “may reduce or eliminate the need for opioids by restoring the balance in the connectivity of the key pain brain regions, altering pain-related attention and memory.” NCCAOM states that more emphasis must be placed on alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, which has been shown to be effective in treating pain. OAAOM plans to continue its initiatives for the inclusivity of acupuncture into the Medicaid program in order to increase safe, effective and cost-efficient care for all Medicaid patients.

“As rates of addiction to, and deaths from, prescription opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone continue to rise, awareness and incorporation of effective, non-pharmacological, non-invasive therapies like acupuncture is more important than ever,” said Kory Ward-Cook, Ph.D., CAE, Chief Executive Officer of the NCCAOM. “Over the course of this year, the field of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has gained prominence as an effective treatment of chronic pain as well as for preventative care among healthcare agencies and consumers alike.”

For more information, please visit To learn more about how acupuncture can help with pain management visit the NCCAOM’s Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine News and Resource Center. To find an NCCAOM National Board-Certified Acupuncturist™ in your area, click on Find a Practitioner at


The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)® is a non-profit 501(c)(6) organization established in 1982. NCCAOM is the only national organization that validates entry-level competency in the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) through professional certification. NCCAOM certification or a passing score on the NCCAOM certification examinations are documentation of competency for licensure as an acupuncturist by 45 states plus the District of Columbia which represents 98 percent of the states that regulate acupuncture. All NCCAOM certification programs are currently accredited by the National Commission for Certification Agencies (NCCA).  To learn more about the NCCAOM, or about acupuncture and national board certification visit To find an NCCAOM board-certified practitioner in your area, click on Find a Practitioner at