In the wake of President Barack Obama's endorsement of complementary and alternative medicine, including acupuncture, there appears to be renewed interest in pushing for the passage of HR 646, the Federal Acupuncture Coverage Act of 2009, which would "amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for coverage of qualified acupuncturist services under part B of the Medicare Program, and to amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for coverage of such services under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program."
Certainly, with health care reform as one of the top priorities of the current administration and foremost on the minds of Americans, the time would appear to be ripe for moving the bill forward. In fact, a new Web site launched by the Department of Health and Human Services, www.healthreform.gov, featured a survey of 30,603 participants. Among the top concerns were cost (55 percent), lack of emphasis on prevention (20 percent), pre-existing conditions limiting insurance access (13 percent) and concerns about the quality of health care (12 percent).
In accordance with this, a new Web site has been launched, with a petition that supporters of the bill may sign. At www.wantacupuncturenow.org, site visitors can sign the petition, follow links to get more facts on the bill, Medicare and President Obama's Eight Health Principles, as well as watch a video on the importance of support for the passage of HR 646. The petition's goal is to collect 500,000 signatures by July 1, 2009.
According to Ernesto J. Fernandez, DOM, AP, LMHC, one of the petition proponents, "This legislation gives 53 million consumers the choice and opportunity to receive the services of qualified acupuncturists under Medicare and Federal Employees Health Benefit Plans."
The last action taken on the bill, on Jan. 22, 2009, was when it was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The bill was introduced by Representative Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY).