Envisioning Our Future: May 11-15, 2023
by NMSAAM President Dr. Yvonne Wylie Walston, DOM
Joyfully coming out of the COVID pandemic, acupuncturists finally met in person again at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC, like we did in 2019, again with 3 parts to the meeting; 1) the ASA Council Meeting, 2) Annual Conference, and 3) Advocate Fly-in to Capitol Hill.
Li Ming Tseng, the ASA Conference Committee Chair, did an exceptional job in bravely moving forward last year in spite of pandemic traces still lurking a little in the background. She used her exceptional organizational talents and skills to orchestrate this, and the whole ASA Board of Directors and committees did their part. It was a delightful and professional meeting. As John Scott said, “The spirit was sweet with the air of cooperation and collaboration.”
David Miller and Nell Smircina
ASA Council Meeting May 11:
Attendees included up to two state delegates, the ASA BOD, NCCAOM, ACAHM, CCAHM, and MacDragon web designers.
The quorum of the state delegates was met (21/35) and:
- Michelle Cieri was unanimously voted in as an ASA BOD Member at Large
- Acupuncture Society of New York was unanimously voted in to the ASA as a full voting member. Beth Nugent and Amy Hausman will serve as ASNY’s primary and secondary delegates.
Michelle Dickie Walls was welcomed as FSOMA’s new secondary delegate, who is stepping into the role previously held by Daniel Litwin. Dickie will serve along with Galina Roofener, who remains FSOMA’s primary delegate.
There were many new delegates. History of ASA/Delegate Orientation was given by ASA Immediate Past Chair Dr. David Miller, bylaws were reviewed, and the treasurer’s report was given by the amazing Hongjian He, ASA Treasurer. Delegates from each state present gave a 2-minute summary about their state issues.
David miller discussed that there has been 40 years of quick growth of this profession. (Note that it was not until 2018 that our work was recognized by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as a distinct profession. See https://nmsaam.org/get-ready-all-aboard/.)
After lunch, an inspirational and newly produced video was shown, Acupuncture Fever, about US Acupuncture and how it all began by Sam Xian Huang, President AAPAS and ChuLong Xue, President AAACMA. Doug Dearth (9000 Needles) was involved as well. The video kept me awake in spite of the box lunch! Repeatedly I hoped to win a copy of it during drawings at the ASA Conference, but my recommendation is that NMSAAM buy one and show it at our annual meeting, put access in the Members Only section of the website; and perhaps show it at a party. I will find out the exact name and how to obtain one.
Other presentations included US Acupuncture: Now (Nell Smircina), 40 Years: The Pillars of Our Profession (NCCAOM, ACAHM, and CCAHM), Building our Platform (MacDragon), and Building Community thru Communication & PR (Jeff Bloom).
The next ASA Council Meetings will be held online August 23 and November 15, 2023. A goal is that state delegates are liaisons of ASA to the states.
The ASA Conference May 13-14, 2023
300 participants came from 37 states.
These two days had a vendor’s area, including NM’s Golden Flower Chinese Herbs, and many informative classes. It was helpful for my own work to learn that Seirin needles can be used with percutaneous electroacupuncture, because the silicone coating is only on the needle tip.
Li Meng Tseng, Bill Reddy, Olivia Tsu Friedman and John Scott
The annual meeting opened on Saturday after Joe Pandolfo, MA, ADS led Qigong: The Daily Three outside on a veranda.
ASA Chair Olivia Hsu Friedman, DACM, LicAc. gave the Welcome & Intro to ASA’s work, which was inspirational and informative.
Next was NIH NCCIH Database for Anatomical and Physiological Ontology of Acupoints Project presented by Wen Chen, Ph.D. and Emrin Horgusluoglu, Ph.D. Update: On May 18-21, 2023, the Society for Acupuncture Research Conference met in New York City, NY. This was a SAR International Research Conference. Congratulations to Dr. Richard Harris, Dr. Vitaly Napadow, and Dr. Karl Helmer for their Topological Atlas and Repository for Acupoint Research (TARA) Project being awarded the NIH NCCIH’s grant to create the Open-Access Repository and Database for Anatomical and Physiological Correlates of Acupoints.
Wen Chen, Ph.D. and Emrin Horgusluoglu, Ph.D.
Everything you wanted to know about acupuncture in the Veterans Health Administration followed, with Juli Olson, DC, DACM, and FAIHM. Dr. Olson was a breath of fresh air in her presentation, and she gave excellent practical points for those of us who are interested in serving our veterans with acupuncture.
After lunch, The Prosperous Acupuncturist: How to Attract New Patients and Referrals was presented by Lorne Brown, B.Sc., CPA, Dr.TCM, FABORM, CHt, CLT, and RTT. It was helpful to hear another point of view from a practitioner from another English-speaking country and he gave excellent universal and practical points.
We were blessed with the next presentation by Michelle Gellis, AP, L.Ac. Dipl. Ac., Neuromuscular Facial Conditions. Her needling methods of threading and depth with specific facial muscles were especially useful, and her knowledge is thorough.
Eric Brand, PhD (China), LicAc. Dipl OM (NCCAOM) gave Granules: Global Trends and Clinical Gems. Dr. Brand’s enthusiasm is infectious, and he presents technical material in a highly palatable and understandable way.
Saturday’s presentations ended with A Classical Perspective on Pathogens with Sharon Weizenbaum, Lic Ac., Dipl Ac., Dipl CH. Her great presentation inspires me to take more courses from her. What a valuable herbal medicine resource!
Sunday began again outside on a veranda with Joe Pandolfo’s Taiji: Essential Centering. The weather was perfect to take full advantage of this.
Sunday’s first presentation was Coming Together as One Medicine: Treating the Whole Person (Jane Grissmer, M.Ac. Dipl.Ac. with Linda Simons, M.Ac, L.Ac, R.N.). Jane Grissmer and Linda Simons worked together to complement each other and bring the whole picture of treating the whole person together in a way that reminds us all of why we are practitioners in this medicine…
Integrating Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, and Integrative Health Into an Academic Medical Environment with David W. Miller, MD, LAc, Immediate past president of the ASA. Dr. Miller gave an excellent presentation and continues to lead this profession into integrative medicine. He is humble about this, because his approach is second nature to him with his training, and we are so fortunate to have him involved. It was good to see the academic studies within the integrative approach.
Included was material about Long Covid.
Wildlife in TCM: History and Ethical Considerations with Lixing Lao, Ph.D., L.Ac. Dr. Lixing Lao gave a great hour-long synopsis of the day-long Annual Conference of the National Federation of Chinese TCM Organizations held in San Francisco, CA, USA, on Sunday, October 16, 2022. See https://nmsaam.org/wildlife-protection-in-traditional-chinese-medicine-celebration-of-the-year-of-tiger-2022/. He also added some additional information.
NCCAOM Code of Ethics Revisions & Risk Management with Michael Taromina, Esq. Mr. Taromina gave an excellent presentation about important priorities for legally safe practice for this sometimes naive group of practitioners. His suggestion of documentation of problem patients in a different location than patient records is quite helpful.
Olivia Hsu Friedman, DACM, LicAc completed the conference itself with her Closing: Envisioning Our Future. She continues to have a good overview and inspirational leadership for the future. Advocates for the Monday Fly-in to Capitol Hill stayed on for training for unification.
Acupuncture Advocacy In-Person Conference Training by Molly Ford, MPP, Jennifer Broadwell, AP, Diplomate OM (NCCAOM), Nell Smircina, DAOM, LicAc, DiplOM (NCCAOM).
This was practical and helpful guidance for the next day, and I really appreciate their hard work of coordination and planning, especially when news was dynamic. We were divided into groups. We had 5 DOMs from NM. NM US House District District 1 included Drs. Yvonne Wylie Walston, Robert Bibeau, and Eric Zhao, who was there to observe. NM US House District 2 included Drs. John Scott and Christina Claude.
Breaking News: HR3133: This bill number was given right before the Conference to the Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act.
Part 3: Advocacy Day: May 15
Capital Hill with and without ASA Advocates. Left: Courtesy of Li Meng Tseng. Photo on right by John Scott
Left: NM US District 2 Advocates Drs. John Scott and Christina Claude. RIght: NM US District 1 Advocates Drs. Eric Yu Zhao, Robert Bibeau, and Yvonne Wylie Walston
Celebrate! There were 130 advocates from 67 offices and 25 states that went up to Capitol Hill to spread the word about our field. We were organized and unified, thanks to the ASA Advocacy Committee .
We were a bit surprised that our NM US House Districts 1 and 2 were not grouped together, but NM District 1 was paired with an Oregon district and NM District 2 was paired with a NC district. Jennifer Broadwell, ASA / NCCAOM Representative, joined the NM District 1 meeting with Maura Weaver, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Melanie Stansbury, and Jennifer added just the right clarification. Each group attended two meetings with Legislative Assistants, observing with one and presenting with their own district. That was actually a lot of fun to work with other state delegates, and great experience. We each felt that our presentations were well received, and we left them with a packet of information about acupuncture and our ASK.
Our ASK was for our state representatives to co-sponsor HR3133, the Acupuncture for our Seniors Act. A main question from the Legislative Assistants was, “Why are acupuncturists not Medicare-providers already?”
The answer is that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) added the service of acupuncture for low back pain a few years ago. However, CMS does not have the authority to add acupuncturists as Medicare providers. That detail requires an Act of Congress, starting with the US House of Representatives.
Despite Medicare covering the service, unless the patient can pay us out of pocket directly, we have to turn away Medicare beneficiaries seeking our care because acupuncturists don’t have Medicare-provider status. This barrier often results in seniors with chronic pain resorting to higher-priced, more invasive options that do not necessarily have better outcomes. While some Medicare supplementary insurances to do sometimes cover some acupuncture, insurance panels in New Mexico are closed, again limiting access. When licensed acupuncturists are Medicare-providers as proposed in HR3133, they will be able to bill Medicare directly instead of to a supervisory MD or through a Medicare Advantage plan.
The lack of national recognition for our profession is simply a policy misalignment. This bill would align policies, so all patients seeking acupuncture care have access to the provider group with the most expertise. We can “opt in” or “opt out” to become Medicare providers when we reach that status, but first we have to have the choice.
Group 20: Robert Bibeau, William Martin,
Yvonne Wylie Walston, and Eric Yu Zhao
Robert Bibeau, Yvonne Walston and a kind Legislative Assistant
guide who led though the tunnel to Longworth Office Building
for an advocacy meeting with Maura Weaver,
Legislative Assistant to Rep. Melanie Stansbury.
We gave one of our folders of educational material to this
interested Legislative Assistant, a happy encounter.
Photo by Eric Yu Zhao
Advocates on Capitol Hill
Update: More breaking news: NM District 1 House Representative Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury joined the movement to introduce H.R. 3421, the Medicare For All Act, to ensure that no New Mexican has to worry about medical bills again. If this goes through, DOMs will be happy that ASA and NMSAAM advocates have been working hard to have Congress assign DOMs as Medicare providers.
Many thanks are given to our NMSAAM Secretary, Elene Gusch, for her expert editing and proofing.
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