NMSAAM 2023 Year-end Report
By President Dr. Yvonne Wylie Walston, DOM
Happy Holidays to all of you!
We are grateful that there is a professional society of acupuncturists in NM, and that membership in NMSAAM is how NM DOMs become members in the ASA.
We continued to send out e-blast news and Facebook posts to NMDOMs, with some tidbits just sent to NMSAAM members. We post articles and news on the NMSAAM website that are often referred and linked to in the shorter e-blasts and Facebook postings.
We strive to be informed by having at least one NMSAAM BOD member or representative present at the Board of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (BAOM) Regular Meetings, which are held alternately in Santa Fe or Albuquerque.
We continue to meet with New Mexico’s Overdose Prevention and Pain Management (OPPM) Advisory Council virtual meeting at the New Mexico Department of Health, (NMDOH) in search of becoming Medicaid providers.
We are very proud of our board and committee members, who have been working hard behind the scenes. Our VP, PR and Legislative Chair, Yvette Arellano, has been working with the Director of Medicaid, our lobbyists and legislators. Some NMSAAM BOD members gave presentations to the public and to various medical and patient groups.
Highlights of this fruitful year:
January 16: First BOD meeting of 2023. NMSAAM BOD meetings are held online for one – two hours every one to two months between communications and tasks amongst members and committees.
January 17-March 18: New Mexico State sixty day Legislative Session 2023 met, and NMSAAM proudly had lobbyists for the second time since NMSAAM incorporated in 2009. In 2021, we began working with a lobbying group, and we renewed our contract again this year. Having allies in the Roundhouse has been instrumental for NMSAAM, and for the interests of our DOM members.
- With the help of our lobbying team, NMSAAM had two bills considered for hearings. One would make insurance co-pays more reasonable for patients, and the other would include DOMs in the list of practitioner types who are eligible for tax credits for working in rural areas. While neither made it through this session, the lowering co-pay almost did, but it had to be pulled due to some technical writing issues and insufficient number of drafters.
- Another success of our lobby efforts is: co-pay and deductible amounts paid by insured patients will no longer be subject to GRT as a result of the big tax bill passed in the 2023 legislature. Some legislators wanted to remove GRT entirely from medical payments, to help keep providers in the state. They were not able to get that idea through.
- Our lobbying team’s major success was the repeal of the sunset of our practice act, along with those for a number of other medical professions. It passed both the House and the Senate, and it was signed by our governor on March 15th. The New Mexico Sunset Act required periodic reviews of boards and agencies such as the BAOM, to make sure they are still serving the public as intended. If our practice act were allowed to sunset, the legislature would have needed to pass a new bill in order for the BAOM to continue to exist and for our profession to continue as a licensed entity in the state. This hung over our heads every four years. Apparently it’s been important to people outside our state, too. Dr. Rob Bibeau has talked to some who considered practicing here but went to Florida instead because that state doesn’t have a sunset provision.
We are continuing our advocacy efforts in the 2024 NM Legislative Session, where our goals are to protect our valuable scope of practice and increase access to acupuncture for all New Mexicans.
January 31: NMSAAM had an Acupuncture Day at the Roundhouse on January 31st in the middle of the 60 day Legislative Session. This was a good return after being shut out from treatments at the Legislative Sessions due to Covid. DOMs and CADSs were working at the Roundhouse. We offered ear treatments, education and whatever else was appropriate in this public setting. The public was eager to have acupuncture treatments again during the legislative session and were lining up before we were completely set up.
February 7: Our then secretary Dr. Elene Gusch sent out a survey to NM DOMs: Where Are We Now? She was able to entice more DOMs to take the survey because our colleagues at the Illinois Society of Acupuncturists generously donated a complimentary registration for a Sharon Weizenbaum’s seminar.
February 17: A hearing was held at the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee about a proposed bill was that was introduced to add an acupuncture level without herbal medicine. There were 7 DOMs at the hearing to testify against it.
One DOM testified for it, presenting it with the sponsoring Senator. It was tabled as per the tied vote, so it was stopped in its tracks at the first committee hearing. The current legal status for acupuncture in NM is DOM, Doctor of Oriental Medicine, which includes herbal medicine.
April 19: A Celebration party at Chello Grill was joyfully held because the repeal of our sunset act was signed by the NM governor on March 16. We raised our glasses in a toast at sunset!
May 11-15, 2023: It was great to be back in-person at the ASA annual conference. President Yvonne Walston attended the May 11 Council, and four other DOMs attended the conference, former NMSAAM president John Scott, Robert Bibeau, Eric Yu Zhao, and Christina Claude. All five stayed for the Fly-In on the 15th and met with two of the three US HR districts in NM to present the ASA documents about HR 3133.
June 16: A Congressional Delegation Pride Celebration was held in Santa Fe, where all three of NM US Representatives were gathered. Drs. John Scott and Christina Claude presented the ASA documents about HR 3133 to their District Rep, while Yvonne Walston presented them to her District Rep as well as to the southern District Rep. Our VP and PR Chair Dr. Yvette Arellano communicated with all of the Reps. Dr. Bernadette Lujan, DOM, also attended the event.
July 16: NMSAAM sponsored a mostly in-person Town hall to discuss the proposed addition of an acupuncture license without herbal medicine. John Scott graciously offered his Golden Flower Chinese Herbs facility classroom to meet, while he was out of town. The NMSAAM goal was to educate that there are now programs available for herbal training to meet the requirements of NCCAOM for taking the herbal exam, which is a necessary standard to become a DOM in NM. It was also important to hear presentations from the supporters of the acupuncture license without herbal medicine.
August: We mourned that our longstanding acupuncture school did finally close. The owners wanted to retire and could not find a buyer for the school in Santa Fe or the branch in Boulder, CO. However, when acupuncturists become Medicare providers, it should be more likely to find funding to put schools within other institutions such as pharmacy or medical schools.
September 10: NMSAAM Annual Meeting
It was held on Zoom again with Dr. Steven Malins as our Zoom host. Zoom has been a blessing, given how spread-out DOMs are across this large state.
The following candidates were unopposed and were elected:
The Executive Board:
President, Yvonne Walston
Vice-President, Yvette Arellano
Secretary, Nicole Barnard
Treasurer, Steven Malins
BOD Members at large:
Caterina Di Palma, and Jake Wilcox
Our active Committees include Communications, Continuing Education, Governance, Insurance, Legislation, Membership, Public Relations, and Website.
October 22: NMSAAM Fun-Raiser & Community Outreach in honor of Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Day, along with celebrating our 42st year of licensure in NM.
Our PR Chair and VP, Dr. Yvette Arellano, pulled it off again. This is her third year of including a community outreach with our FUN-Raiser.
This is the third year that we have an official Proclamation from our governor that October 24th, 2023 is Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Day throughout NM. Thank you, Li Ming Tseng for your past training!
November 8: Molly Ford informed us that NM US House Representative, Melanie Stansbury, District 1, signed on to co-sponsor HR 3133 (after two years of educating her by several DOMS.) This success is an illustration of repetition, repetition, repetition for people to hear.
November 28: Upcoming regular NMSAAM BOD meeting with special non-profit BOD leadership training by Candace Sarges, MAc, LAc, Dipl OM (NCCAOM), American Society of Acupuncturists.
December . . . We are considering a party soon while we view 9000 Needles and Acupuncture Fever.
Join NMSSAM Now!
Year end is an excellent time to join NMSAAM, the professional organization for acupuncturists in our great state.
- As a 501c6 nonprofit organization, professional dues are not a tax write-off, but it does reduce the taxable income
- AND gives membership in both our state professional organization (NMSAAM) and our national professional organization (ASA).
- For NM DOMs, it is necessary to be a member of the NMSAAM in order to be a member of the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA).
- Because NMSAAM is an ASA member, there are cost savings for malpractice insurance and more through the ASA
- We have fun and sharpen one another.
- Even if you have no time to participate much or at all, you support our great profession in NM by allowing us to continue hiring our lobbyist group
Together we can make a difference and have fun while doing it.
Join NMSAAM Now!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
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.