Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) has authored a bill that would would require Medicare to cover acupuncture services for all enrollees, regardless of their insurance plan.
Medicare has not adopted the ancient Chinese treatment because its effectiveness has not been scientifically proven, according to the agency's website.
Rep. Chu's office says the bill would create uniformity by ensuring acupuncture would be covered for all Medicare recipients. HR 3849 also includes a provision making the treatment available for military members and veterans.
In California, acupuncture benefits are spotty for those on Medicare, depending on their insurance carrier.
Kaiser Permanente says it covers acupuncture for patients with chronic pain who have failed to control it with standard care. Cigna won’t cover acupuncture for Medicare enrollees.
The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture points to research showing that acupuncture is an effective treatment for numerous things, such as addiction and pain, and can even help those recovering from a stroke.
"With this year’s Nobel Prize for Medicine acknowledging the benefits of traditional Asian medicine, it is the perfect time to expand access" to acupuncture, Chu said in a Nov. 13 statement.
Two websites that track bills in Congress give her measure little to no chance of passage.