• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Acupuncturists Lobby HHS to Be Included in 'Essential Health Benefits'

    A trade group representing acupuncturists and practitioners of “oriental medicine” is attempting to convince the Department of Health and Human Services to classify acupuncture as an “essential health benefit” under Obamacare.

    The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine established a task force to spearhead the effort, which organized a letter-writing campaign directed at HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. A total of 5,571 letters and emails were sent, according to the organization’s website.

    “Acupuncture fits all of the criteria for an eligible EHB service,” claims a position paper drafted by the AAAOM, “and has demonstrated meaningful improvement in outcomes over current effective services and treatments for conditions in at least five [of] the [10] often general categories of health care outlined by HHS and IOM.”

    Acupuncture, the letter goes on to insist, “is already an important part of the fabric of American healthcare.” A spokesperson for the AAAOM said they have not received a response from HHS.

    But watchdog groups are not convinced of AAAOM’s position. The Center for Inquiry, which describes itself as “a national nonprofit organization that advocates for public policy based on science through research, publishing, lobbying, and community outreach,” sent a letter to Sebelius urging her to reject AAAOM’s request.

     According to the Institute of Medicine, for a service to be eligible as an EHB, it must: (1) be safe, (2) be medically effective, (3) demonstrate meaningful improvement, (4) be a medical service, and (5) be cost effective.

    Acupuncture meets none of these five criteria. Proponents of acupuncture repeatedly claim that acupuncture is a safe, efficacious, and cost effective complement to conventional medicine. However, such claims are unjustified, and rely on dubious and discredited research. In fact, an increasingly robust body of empirical evidence has shown that acupuncture is unproven, unscientific, and has no clinical value beyond a placebo effect. Medical interventions that perform no better than placebos should not be funded by the government. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve drugs as “safe and effective” when they perform no better than placebos. Similarly, HHS should not classify a procedure as an EHB when it provides no benefits beyond what could be expected from a placebo.

    HHS did not return a request for comment. But even if the agency declines to include acupuncture in its essential health benefits package, the AAAOM’s efforts illustrate a problematic element of the Obamacare law: because federal bureaucrats are empowered to decide what insurance companies must cover, special interest groups now have a strong incentive to devote resources to lobbying the federal government for favors such as inclusion in the EHB package.

    Coverage mandates like those under Obamacare remove consumers’ ability to choose a health plan that offers the benefits that suit them best—which for many, probably doesn’t include things like acupuncture. Even so, if groups like these are successful at getting their preferred service included in the essential health benefit package, the insured will pay for it through higher premiums.

    Posted in Featured, Obamacare, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Acupuncturists Lobby HHS to Be Included in 'Essential Health Benefits'

    1. Bobbie says:

      the body survives without acupuncture. personal choice. what is this blatant deception on "affordable health care" that isn't? a gateway for preferential/ special treatment, costs control at government's leisure per acupuncturist determination?

    2. dorsai123 says:

      turns out healthy single men will be forced to purchase insurance that covers pregnancy … just becasue it passed the 5 tests doesn't mean its needed for a huge percentage of the people on insurance …

    3. I'd place Acupuncture as an 'Optional, beneficial' treatment. The Acupuncturist that I went to helped my vision immensely. however, when it comes to any type of medical treatment, Eastern, Western, old or new, results will show, based primarily on only how an individual treats his, or her own health.
      The needles can be very intimidating, but a skilled Acupuncturist can find what needs poking.

    4. Shoba Satya says:

      Acupuncture and herbology has over 2000 years of written history, that is every doctor keeping track of results with every patient all through the milleniums. It has been shown to be effective, successful and far less dangerous than "conventional medicine". Our relatively young American health system could benefit by using this time proven system as the front line treatment before expensive drugs and surgeries.

    5. georgehend says:

      Many existing laws and regulations apply specifically to pregnant women. Several provisions of the Affordable Care Act offer new benefits for expecting mothers. Search online for "Penny Health" if you need affordable insurance for yourself or your wife.

    6. octavioj says:

      This is what happens when government does too much. Everyone comes back to the government asking for theirs.

    7. Simon says:

      Link to Center for Inquiry (CFI) statement here: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/opp/news/cfi_to_h

    8. Chris in N.Va. says:

      Just in case there were any remaining doubts that our ever-vigilant bureaucrats are looking for new ways to stick it to us….

    9. john says:

      I can tell you as an acupuncturist for the past 8 years it really helps. The problem I have is not with acupuncture but with acupuncturists. They are all (well 98%) to the left of this nut is office. I am fighting as hard as I can so we are not in the EHB. Before I became an acupuncturist I was an PA-C, most acupuncturists could not last one day in a hospital or in court, were they would find them self if they were in EHB.

      The guy at quick watch is a quick, look him up. He never passed his boards and is banked rolled by big pharma. That man is always in court getting sued.

      • Guest says:

        I became an acupuncturist because I repsect tradition and natural principles – conservitive values.

    10. JA123 says:

      Here we have yet another example of a special interest lobbying for the govt to pick another winner. Guess who loses – the taxpayer.
      Whatever happened to the idea of catastrophic health insurance. That is what most need and it should be private insurance not from the govt. Paying for acupuncture, condoms and the like should be out-of-pocket.

    11. donaldjohnsone says:

      After the recent incident people think the only place an American in USA can be guaranteed appropriate medical care (at the top of the list/front of the line) is in prison but good alernative for now is "Penny Health" check it out

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×