The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to Cover Research-Related Acupuncture for Medicare Beneficiaries

Through Its Strategic Partnership with SmithBucklin, NCCAOM Seeks to Raise Awareness about
Evidence-based Standards of Competence and Credentialing for Acupuncture


Contact: Olga Cox , NCCAOM, (202) 381-1116, [email protected]

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to Cover Research-Related Acupuncture for Medicare Beneficiaries

Washington D.C. (July 16, 2019) – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will cover acupuncture services from NCCAOM National Board-Certified Acupuncturists™ for Medicare beneficiaries involved in research projects to determine acupuncture’s effect on individuals with chronic lower back pain (CLBP). The results of this research will help determine whether Medicare will cover acupuncture to treat CLBP for all Medicare beneficiaries.

“The NCCAOM is pleased that CMS is conducting this study to demonstrate the effectiveness of acupuncture services, as performed by NCCAOM Board-Certified Acupuncturists™, for older Americans suffering from back pain”, stated Dr. Kory Ward-Cook, NCCAOM’s Chief Executive Officer. “It is our hope that CMS will utilize the outcome of this study to provide coverage of acupuncture services for all Medicare recipients”.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently recognizes acupuncturists as an independent profession, but Medicare does not yet recognize acupuncturists as providers. In February 2019, NCCAOM worked with the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) to provide comments to CMS’ National Coverage Analysis for acupuncture in the treatment of chronic lower back pain [CAG-00452N].  These comments included evidence-based research that demonstrating acupuncture is a viable non-opioid option to treating and managing pain, as well as a cost-effective integrated health service.  “We would like to commend the CMS for evaluating and considering the NCCAOM and ASA’s collaborative letter and comments in response to the Centers’ National Coverage Analysis for acupuncture in the treatment of chronic low back pain. We believe CMS’s July 15 announcement shows that our advocacy efforts have helped strengthen the case for recognition”, stated NCCAOM Board Chair Afua Bromley.

NCCAOM continues to represent and support its National Board-Certified Acupuncturists by advocating for recognition among private and public payers, and entities such as CMS, the Department of Defense, and Veterans Administration—and that these recognitions require NCCAOM certification.

Look for more information from NCCAOM’s advocacy team regarding research opportunities, as well as more opportunities to advocate for the profession and our certification.


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 46 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 National Board-Certified Acupuncturist™ in your area, click on Find A Practitioner at