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What Are Acupuncturists Most Worried About Under President Trump?

May 12, 2017 Health News
Acupuncture in the Age of Trump

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s no longer business-as-usual in America.

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States represents a political earthquake. Day by day we’re trying to anticipate the consequences of his policies for all kinds of professions.

So what about acupuncture?

Changes to federal policy on health insurance will have potentially severe consequences for the profession. Although acupuncture still needs wider support from insurance plans, it is increasingly accepted as a valuable form of pain treatment. In an America addicted to potentially deadly opiates for pain management, acupuncture provides an attractive alternative.

The growing professionalization of acupuncture attests to its priority to be taken seriously by insurance providers. We see this in the recognition by practitioners of the benefits of electronic health records and the increasing integration of insurance billing with acupuncture practice management software.

But right now the ideological battle over the role of the federal government in the provision of health insurance is swinging to the Republican Party.

Trump’s legislation to “repeal and replace” President Obama’s signature Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) – Obamacare – finally passed the House on May 4, 2017, after several abortive attempts. The legislation now waits for approval by the Senate – not a sure thing considering the widespread criticism of its failings. Millions of Americans stand to lose their health insurance in the coming years under Trumpcare.

So what are the concerns of acupuncturists in the age of Trump?

We asked Matt Maneggia of Connecticut Family Acupuncture for his thoughts. Maneggia’s worries are as a citizen, first and foremost. But as far as the consequences of Trump for practitioners of acupuncture, he concedes there may be mixed blessings.

“If the Republicans get their way, it looks like they’re gonna move in a more HSA-heavy direction,” says Maneggia. “This could actually be good for acupuncturists. We’re seeing insurance companies slash reimbursement rates, not only for acupuncturists, but for pretty much every medical professional. So this would theoretically give patients more of a choice in where they allocate their healthcare dollars, and I think many of them will see the value in spending that on acupuncture not only as an (often) more effective way to deal with pain and chronic health complaints, but preventatively as well.”

This will create new challenges for practitioners to seize the moment.

Maneggia says:

“It will be incumbent upon us as a profession and as individual practitioners to really market ourselves as one of the best options on which to spend those healthcare dollars.”

For now, as we wait in legislative limbo, planning for the future is difficult. But practitioners can continue to professionalize and argue for acupuncture’s inclusion in insurance plans – whichever way insurance may be regulated in the future.

 

Guest blog post by Matt Leask.