2021 NMSAAM Highlights: December Message from President Dr. Yvonne Walston, DOM
Happy Holidays to All!
What a year we, and the rest of the world, have had in the second year of the pandemic. Let us have an attitude of JOY to physiologically help cope with our pandemic fatigue in spite of our sorrows and fatigue.
Happiness is a choice!
Our first NMSAAM Town Hall Results from November 22. It was a lot of fun, and the questions that were polled did indeed help to open up some communications. It was a small group, but the information is still helpful. We needed to list priorities because we have limited funds.
The NMSAAM Town Hall polling 11/22/21:
Rating of 0-5, with 5 being the most important:
- Importance of Legislation for NM DOMs:
100% rated this as a 5.
- Importance of NMSAAM facilitated CEUs for NM DOMs:
17% rated this as a 2, 67% as a 3, and 17% rated this as a 5.
- Importance of Community for NM DOMs:
17% rated this as a 2, 33% as a 4, 50% rated this as a 5.
- Importance of Public Relations for NM DOMs:
50% rated this as a 4, and 50% rated this as a 5.
- Importance of monitoring BAOM activity for NM DOMs:
100% rated this as a 5.
- Importance of monitoring Insurance activity for NM DOMs:
17% rated this as a 4, and 83% as a 5.
Let’s do a victory lap to celebrate some of the highlights NMSAAM accomplished during the pandemic in 2021:
- Three days after the September 27, 2020 NMSAAM elections our 2021 Insurance Chair, Dr. Amanda Wheat, was rudely yanked into action, because we ASA delegates were informed on the ASA List serve that CMS* planned to eliminate acupuncture CPT* codes and just use the new dry needling CPT code. She had four and a half days to have NMSAAM comments for CMS by 3 o’clock MST on Monday October 5th. She submitted the comments within two days. Her big concern was that this didn’t just affect someone who plans on taking Medicare. All insurance companies use the RVUs* set by CMS to determine their fee schedules. By eliminating the acupuncture codes from CMS, they would eliminate them from all insurance reimbursements, reducing the income dramatically for those acupuncturists who primarily have insurance patients. That also filters over to direct pay acupuncturists.
- *CMS = Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services *RVU = Relative Value Units *CPT = Current Procedural Terminology code *ASA = the American Society of Acupuncturists
- Acupuncturists across the country were quickly unified about this through the ASA, where we have experts who rapidly researched pertinent details for us. So that individuals could easily submit their own comments in time for the short deadline of October 5th, we sent an e-blast to NM DOMs and also posted the information on the NMSAAM Face book page. The CMS had until November 5, 2020 to process all of the letters. Together, we made a difference, and the CMS did not eliminate acupuncture CPT codes.
- We continue to support the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign, and many of us attend the now virtual meetings that pop up periodically. Our organization was the first to join nine statewide health professions organizations to send a letter to legislators and the governor in support of the 2021 Health Security Bill. These nine organizations represent almost every arm of the state’s health care system. There was a lovely article about it, by Dr. Tyler Taylor and Donna Dowell, FNP, in the Legislature 2021 section of the Albuquerque Journal on Tuesday, February 2, 2021: Health Security bill key to improving care in NM, where acupuncturists are indeed included. I was able to attend the virtual committee meetings at the 2021 New Mexico legislative session and able to vote in support of this campaign.
- We continue to have virtual NMSAAM Board of Directors meetings roughly bimonthly and sometimes monthly, which are open to NMSAAM members and scheduled in the Members section of the NMSAAM website. Our committees worked behind the scenes. We sent out email blasts and Face book news along with news blogs on our website, keeping NM DOMs informed with professional articles, pertinent news affecting our field, including information about Covid 19.
- Our 2021 legislative chair, Dr. Bernadette Lujan, found a lobbyist group, who has our backs at the NM Legislature, allowing us to simply practice our medicine and grow our profession.
- We sponsored a statewide Zoom meeting on August 14 with Mori West, the ASA insurance Chair, in order to answer questions about the September 1, 2021 merger of ASH/Cigna.
- Our PR Chair, Dr Yvette Arellano, spearheaded and implemented our 2021 celebration of 40 years of acupuncture licensure in New Mexico at a finally in-person Fun-raiser and community outreach on August 28 outdoors at the Albuquerque Garden Center.
- Our 2021 Legislative Chair, Dr. Bernadette Lujan, represented NMSAAM with her excellent presentation in person at a Panel discussion on Complementary Medicine at the Senate Chambers before the NM Legislative Health and Human Services Committee on Thurs, Sept 16, 2021. Our lobbyists were instrumental for the NMSAAM invitation and inclusion in this important meeting. Drs. John Scott and Yvette Arellano also attended. The meeting gave us great exposure, and we were able to bring some important points and data regarding acupuncture/complementary Medicaid coverage in other states, specifically in Missouri, which is considered the flagship state for Medicaid. One of NMSAAM goals is to keep the momentum going with HHS.
- We held our annual NMSAAM statewide meeting virtually on September 18, 2021, where we elected our current Board of Directors, had an excellent presentation with Q&A from our Lobbyist Team, had an insurance forum with Mori West, held a CE Ethics class and had good general DOM communications. Note that our current Legislative Chair is now Vice President Dr. Yvette Arellano after Dr. Bernadette Lujan left the BOD October 30th. Dr. Lujan is more involved with our national association, the ASA now on a committee.
- Our Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham declared October 24th, 2021 to be Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Day, and NMSAAM intention is to approach our Governor every year for this in our efforts to educate the public about our amazing field of medicine.
- We negotiated a 10% discount for NMSAAM members to attend the Atlantic Symposium in November virtually or in-person.
- Our governance chair, Dr Steven Malins, continues working with the new governance committee in the ASA as well as our own NMSAAM governance committee to promote functional, ethical, and transparent workable structure for this nonprofit society of professionals. It includes the NMSAAM Code of Conduct, which was approved 10/20/2020 at an NMSAAM BOD Zoom meeting. As Webmaster, he will be making that access more user friendly in the next update of our website, stay tuned.
- Our Membership Chair, Dr. Jennifer Rysanek, has been faithfully working behind the scenes. Membership issues with the website and website slowness are the main prompts to update our NMSAAM website once again – coming soon.
Good social science about the need and reason for a positive attitude:
Note that Harvard-based social scientist, Steven Pinker, is famous for observing that the conditions for humankind are demonstrably better than they have ever been by any measure. He says that humans in the 21st century are healthier, live longer, are wealthier, are safer, possess more knowledge, and enjoy more leisure than at any other time in human history. Pinker has two theories about why people are not generally happier or more contented. His second reason, stated first here, is the “availability heuristic” which blocks us from seeing the progress humankind has made. That phenomenon states that events or stimuli that are more recent and memorable are perceived as more important and more indicative of what is normative. With the current 24 hour news cycle, the competition for eyeballs and ears pushes news coverage continuously toward the sensational. The driving principle in the news business is “if it bleeds, it leads.” Thus, it is important for us viewers/readers to be discerning and balanced; our forte if we remember to do it.
Pinker’s first theory of why so many intellectuals seldom fully acknowledge progress is that they never appear to allow themselves a victory lap.
Remember that we are all talented, trained and brilliant, but none of us can read minds, so we must communicate. We have different social cues perspectives given our different personalities and backgrounds, yet, to borrow from the ASA, “Together, we can make a difference,” and in NMSAAM, we can continue developing Unity in Diversity.
Start 2022 out right by joining NMSAAM.
Be aware that during our 40th year of licensed acupuncture in New Mexico, the proposed additional acupuncture license in New Mexico is brewing and developing in the background. Many DOMs believe that LAc’s, in addition to DOM’s would be a giant step backwards. Stay tuned as this story develops!
We can’t do it alone! Our membership fell with Covid, but our NMSAAM BOD keeps trucking. The time is now to make the time to support your profession through NMSAAM, and not just assume that others will do it for you.
You recall that we bit the bullet and NMSAAM did hire a lobbyist group this last spring. Since legislature is 100% on the attendees priorities, along with monitoring BAOM activities, those of you who are not NMSAAM members have a great opportunity:
Start 2022 out right by joining or renewing NMSAAM.
The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it. – Chinese proverb
Please note: This article expresses the opinions and research of the author, and does not necessarily reflect all views or policies of NMSAAM members, the NMSAAM BOD, or the ASA.