Acupuncture Could Be Covered by Medicare?

△ As interests groups have more supported the HR 4803, it increases hope for acupuncture to be included in the Medicare system. Image© AdobeStock_Andy Dean.

All Current Bills that Could Affect Acupuncturists in CA

Namwook Cho L.Ac.

HR 4803, Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act of 2021, introduced by US Representative Judy Chu (Democratic, California) last July 29th, has been supported by various interest groups, including the acupuncture community.

The bill, Acupuncture for Seniors Act, was already got its supports before being formally introduced by ASA(American Society of Acupuncturists), AcuCongress, NCCAOM, ATCMA(American TCM Association), and TCMAAA(TCM American Alumni Association).

In addition to the acupuncture associations and interest groups’ support of the bill, US Representative Chellie Pingree (Democratic, Maine) recently listed her name in the bill as a sponsor.

This bill is in the first stage of the legislative process. It was introduced into Congress on July 29th, 2021. It will typically be considered by the committee next before it is possibly sent on to the House or Senate as a whole. 

Bills such as HR 4803 and AB 918 Which Tries to Substitute CALE to NCCAOM.

HR 4803, US Representative Judy Chu (Democratic, CA) introduced the Committee on Energy and Commerce last July. Also, Committee on Ways and Means is planning to review the bill. A total of 100 committee members will review the bill, 58 from Committee on Energy and Commerce and 42 from Committee on Ways and Means.

If HR 4803 is passed and effective, the bill will authorize the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to recognize qualified acupuncturists as healthcare providers. Medicare recognition would enable qualified acupuncturists to provide covered services to Medicare beneficiaries—over 60-million Americans.

The author of the bill, US Representative Judy Chu explained, “Medicare has already acknowledged the value of acupuncture by issuing a National Coverage Determination for chronic lower back pain, but licensed acupuncturists are still prohibited from being Medicare providers. For that, you need an act of Congress, which is exactly what my bill does. This bill will help connect more Americans to the care they need and ensures we are giving our seniors access to all available treatment options for conditions like chronic pain.”  


Other Bills that need to be watched.

Some bills could seriously affect the interest of acupuncturists in California. As we know better about certain bills, we can prepare and gather our voices against the bill that could threaten acupuncturists’ interest.

California acupuncture board has discussed bills that could affect the Board itself and acupuncturists in the state during board meetings. During the recent acupuncture board meeting, held last June, we discussed 17 different bills and decided the Board’s position on bills. All 17 bills were discussed, and only one bill had the Board’s support, and the rest of them were considered watch or opposing positions.

Many bills were discussed, but there were certain patterns such as a discount or non-chargeable fee for the spouse of active duty military service members to apply for an initial acupuncture license, ensuring the right to participate in all public meetings through telephone or internet, or licensee’s criminal record management.

Especially, AB 1026: Business Licenses: veterans – Smith, which was held under submission by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, affects only minimal impact to the Board. The Board explained that “The Board received very few license applications from the military community. Last 2020 the Board received two applications, and last 2019, the Board received only one application.”

An interesting bill was discussed as the Board decided to change the paper acupuncture license to a credit card like plastic years ago. But for some reason, that has not been effective, and we still have a paper license. Also, the Board decided to add ethics and safety course-taking requirement to the license renewal requirement. But ethics and safety are not required to license renewal.

The bill, Assembly Bill 2: Regulations: legislative review: regulatory reform – Fong, draw attention. Because the bill requires the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) to submit a copy of each major regulation it submits to the Secretary of State to each house of the Legislature for review. The bill is also expected to ensure laws are more efficiently implemented and enforced and reduce unnecessary and outdated rules and regulations.


<Bills Affecting the Acupuncture Community>




The Board Position


AB 810


The Board raises the minimum fine from $50 to $100 for the failure of a licensee to report a settlement, judgment, or arbitration award over $3,000 of a claim.


Introduced 2/16/21. 

With Assembly Committee on Business and Professions.

AB 918


The bill would require an applicant to obtain a passing score on one or more modules of NCCAOM to apply for an acupuncture license in California.


Introduced 2/17/21.

Located in the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions.

Two-year bill.

AB 1386


The bill would prohibit a board from charging an initial application fee or an initial license issuance fee to applicants who meet requirements.


Amended on 4/28/21.

Held under suspense on 5/20/21 by Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

SB 772

Ochoa Bogh

The bill would prohibit the assessment of an administrative fine for a minor violation and would specify that a violation shall be considered minor if it meets specified conditions.


Introduced on 2/19/21.

Currently located in the Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development.

AB 2


The bill requires the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) to submit a copy of each major regulation it submits to the Secretary of State to each house of the Legislature for review.


Introduced on 12/7/20.

In committee: Held under submission.