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July 2020 Newsletter

Table of Contents – July 2020

Wild Times — Where's the Map? 

Long before I thought about medical school, I enjoyed sitting with my Dad in his pickup truck driving around the hills of Allegheny in the summer. Windows open, wind in our faces, surrounded by his work tools, life couldn’t have been better. Often, he would pretend to be lost. “Find the way home, Freddie!” he’d exclaim, and then wait for me to provide directions to our camp. Little did I know, this test was a lesson and he was there to guide me. The anxiety of getting lost piqued my senses, and I paid close attention to every detail as I navigated. When we’d finally get back, he’d congratulate me vigorously. In reality, he was not going to let us get lost — he wanted to get back to a hearty camp dinner more than anyone.

The pandemic is causing anxiety amongst many and it’s piquing our senses. Keeping up to date on guidelines and directing our patients appropriately has many of us on edge. We’re looking for direction, but many of us feel lost. Some nice parental guidance would be comforting, as we’d like to make it home and be congratulated. Yet, where is the finish line in this race? What will the world look like a year from now?

I learned a love of maps and direction early in life. Some might say that learning acupuncture meridian maps was particularly easy for me because of my Dad, the Navy pilot. “You would be a great navigator,” he’d tell me. Were these inherent qualities or did I just accentuate them to get all of the lavish praise from my father? We’ll never know.

What I do know is that we all need vision and direction for how to get through this pandemic in a healthy and civilized fashion. As your current AAMA president, my vision for a bright future is fueled by you, our members. I hear from many of you frequently and do my best to incorporate your ideas into our plans. Your current board of directors is passionately active in steering this organization in the right direction. Our administrative staff is working tirelessly to accommodate all of the changes that occur routinely nowadays. I am blessed to have a group of amazing mentors in my life who boost me, encourage me, and guide me — particularly when the tasks are difficult.

We had been working on shoring up the infrastructure of the AAMA long before COVID. Over the past year, your board has solidified our mission and our vision statements to reflect your opinions and our guidance. All committees are well populated and led by skillful chairs. We have surveyed AAMA members and clarified the definition of “full member” accordingly. Research has a stronger presence in the AAMA, thanks to a hard-working research committee. Relationships with other medical and acupuncture associations have become more vibrant and respectful. Commentaries to legislators and governing agencies have grabbed the attention of those who might inadvertently erode our rights to practice. We’re interacting with the VA’s third-party insurance entities to assure that physicians are allowed to treat veterans with acupuncture and be paid fairly; likewise, we’re working with CMS to assure a fair reimbursement for what we do. And we’re working on whether we can safely host a 2021 symposium or convert it to the most amazing virtual education ever.

These are some wild times we’re living in! Where’s the map? What’s our direction? I am fully convinced that NOW is the time for medical acupuncture, like never before. Safe human contact is the solution in medicine and we provide that in the most holistic and compassionate way. Integration of resources is the very lifeblood of what we do. Compassion for those suffering is inherent to all physicians, but I feel it most strongly when I’m interacting with my acupuncture colleagues. Our medical subspecialty speaks to the very soul of our patients, particularly when they’re lost, anxious, and in need of our direction.

Please stay healthy and hold on to what is most precious in your lives. This storm will pass.

Renew your AAMA membership! Keep the ideas and suggestions rolling it. We depend on you!  

Freda Dreher, MD, FAAMA
President, AAMA Board of Directors
 

Welcome New AAMA Members

Please join us in welcoming the following new members who became part of the Academy in June 2020:

  • Carter S. Tisdale, MD, of North Las Vegas, NV 
  • Gaurav Trehan, MD, DABMA, of Philadelphia, PA 
  • Roselyn Jan Wuthrich Clemente Fuentes, MD, FAAFP of Niceville, FL
  • John Flanagan, MD of Nashville, TN - Welcome BACK!
If you have peers or colleagues who aren’t currently members of the AAMA, please encourage them to learn more about the benefits of membership by visiting the website or contacting Janice Brown, the membership committee chair. 

Legislative Advocacy – Committee Update 

As legislative activity picks up again across the country, the Legislative Committee is once again reviewing proposed initiatives that may affect medical acupuncture. Three current priorities:

  • Gathering information about licensing and malpractice insurance requirements for Ohio in preparation for the 2021 symposium.
  • Monitoring activity related to CMS/Medicare reimbursement to support legislation that aligns with AAMA member needs.
  • Working with an AAMA member who is having difficulty securing a contract with Optum to provide acupuncture treatments for veterans. (Are you having a similar problem with Optum or other insurance provider? Reach out to us now!)  

Legislative tracking and advocacy are ongoing priorities of the AAMA Board of Directors. Please remember: If you become aware of legislative issues/bills being proposed in your state that would affect medical acupuncturists, we encourage you to let us know by email (info@medicalacupuncture.org) or phone (310-379-8261). 

New AAMA Webinar: An Acupuncture Guide to Common Shoulder Complaints

The webinar — We Carry the Weight of the World on Our Shoulders: An Acupuncture Guide to Common Shoulder Complaints — will be presented by Kendra Unger, MD, FAAMA and Jason Oreskovich, DO, DABMA, on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 (8pm EDT, 7pm CDT, 5pm PDT). This webinar is designed to refresh the learner on the topic of the shoulder. Clinical presentations will be used to guide the learner through the evaluation and diagnosis of common shoulder complaints. Acupuncture treatments suggested for each condition will also be reviewed and illustrated. The shoulder is one of the most complex joints of the human body. Its unique design allows it to move in all directions, making our lives much easier. Injury, pain, or dysfunction of the shoulder greatly impacts a person’s functionality and quality of life. Shoulder complaints are very common in medical and acupuncture practice. The goal of this webinar is to familiarize practitioners with the wonder of this amazing joint and to review common conditions and treatments available. Learn more and register today! 

AAMA Medicare Survey Summary

Thank you to all who participated in the survey regarding Medicare coverage for acupuncture services. Almost 200 members participated in the survey. More than half of the respondents were solo owners of a private practice while about 20% were employed in a group practice. Here is a summary of the survey results:

  • 2/3 of respondents are in a practice that accepts Medicare patients.
  • Most respondents who accept Medicare do their own acupuncture treatments.
  • Of the 32 respondents who have filed claims with Medicare for coverage for acupuncture, half stated they experienced problems collecting reimbursement for services.
  • Most respondents believe the AAMA should promote expansion of acupuncture services for Medicare patients ONLY if reimbursement rates equal those of private insurance. 

The AAMA Board and Legislative Committee will work to promote Medicare coverage for acupuncture for additional diagnoses if reimbursement rates are increased to reasonable amounts. Physicians deserve to be adequately compensated for their time and services. Read more.  

AAMA Offers Assistance with Care for Veterans

The Veterans Administration created the VA CNN (Veteran Affairs Community Care Network) to help Veterans who can't get necessary services from a VA provider because the services aren't available or the VA provider is too far away. The states have been delegated to three regions for this program, which is run by United Health Care and Optum. Specific information on policies and procedures is in the VA CCN Provider Manual at info.vacommunitycare.com. To participate in the VA CCN you must have a contract with UHC or Optum. Recently we've received word that Optum had denied contracts for physician acupuncturists. This problem was reportedly corrected on June 25, 2020, with updated credentialing information. The AAMA board is interested to know if you have applied to participate in the CCN and whether your application has been accepted or denied. Please email Donna Pittman with details. We will contact an administrative agent to assist you if you've had difficulties obtaining a contract. 

Are You Taking Advantage of All of the Benefits of AAMA Membership? 

Now more than ever, the AAMA has your back. Exclusive membership benefits can strengthen your practice to help you better care for your patients. Are you taking advantage of all the AAMA has to offer? Renew today! 

Connection: AAMA creates opportunities for physician acupuncturists to collaborate and establish professional relationships with peers and mentors.

Education: AAMA provides CME and non-CME educational opportunities for physician acupuncturists to improve and expand their practice of medical acupuncture. Live and on-demand activities are available to suit your schedule. 

Research: AAMA showcases and supports important scientific research related to medical acupuncture. 

Advocacy: AAMA protects physician rights and patient safety through legislative tracking and organized response to state and federal legislators. State-by-state initiatives are monitored for potential impact on physician acupuncturists. Of particular interest are issues relating to scope of practice, dry needling and insurance funding.

Referral: AAMA connects thousands of prospective patients with members each year via the “Find an Acupuncturist” directory on the AAMA’s website. The popular directory allows patients to search for physician acupuncturists (AAMA members only) in their area.

Outreach: AAMA works year-round to educate patients, health care providers and members of the media about the practice of medical acupuncture — and its benefits for patients.  

Save $$ By Recruiting NEW Members to Join 

Do you know someone who could – and should – become an AAMA member? Earn $50 for yourself by recruiting a new member to join the Academy. Reach out to your colleagues, people you met in acupuncture trainings, people you know who need to be involved with the Academy. Nominate a new member today and earn $50 credit for each new member you bring in. Find all the details about this offer on the AAMA website, and share this brochure with interested parties. 

Call for Submissions - Acupuncture, Internal Medicine, and COVID-19

Call for papers: Medical Acupuncture is planning a Special Issue focusing on how acupuncture and auricular medicine can be used as an effective adjunct to treat a variety of internal medicine related conditions. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are also seeking articles highlighting the use of acupuncture and/or traditional Chinese medicine in caring for patients affected with COVID-19. Deadline for Manuscript Submission: August 31, 2020.

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It Last Month 

Winning AAMA Research Paper – Watch the Video Presentation
Congratulations once again to our colleagues who authored the first-place submission in this year’s AAMA Research Paper Competition. The paper is entitled, "Acupuncture for Pediatric Sickle Cell Pain Management: A Promising Non-Opioid Therapy." View presentation video now! (Lead author, Shiu-Lin Tsai, MD)  

Acupuncturists without Borders Offers Ear Seed Kits
AWB is distributing an instructional how-to video, along with ear-seed kits, to frontline workers in CoVid-19 hotspots across the United States. Kits are free of charge for front line workers and $15 (including postage) for private practice practitioners. Supplies limited.  

Clinical Registry: COVID-19 and Integrative Health
Call for participation: a clinical registry aiming to capture key case, treatment/supportive care, and outcome variables related to the use of traditional, complementary, and integrative health and medicine products and practices in response to the COVID-19 crisis.  

Professional Development Opportunities 

AAMA Webinar - We Carry the Weight of the World on Our Shoulders: An Acupuncture Guide to Common Shoulder Complaints
Presented by: Kendra Unger, MD, FAAMA, and Jason Oreskovich, DO, DABMA
Wednesday, July 29, 20208:00 pm EDT, 7:00 pm CDT, 5:00 pm PDT 

KIOM-SAR 2020 International Research Conference
September 11-13, 2020 (new dates!) 
Seoul, South Korea, AND live streaming 

2021 Medical Acupuncture Review Course
April 27-28, 2021 - Cincinnati, OH
Save the date!  

AAMA 2021 Annual Symposium
April 29-May 2, 2021 - Cincinnati, OH
Save the date! 

ICMART World Medical Acupuncture Congress
Now July 2-4, 2021
Athens, Greece 

AAMA Website: Education Listings 
The AAMA maintains an ongoing calendar of educational events and professional development opportunities related to medical acupuncture. The calendar is accessible on the AAMA website. Members are encouraged to share events and calendar items from their regions and about educational topics that may be of wider interest among peers and fellow AAMA members. 

Medical Acupuncture Journal Updates

Fast-Track Articles, Ahead of Print: https://www.liebertpub.com/toc/acu/0/0 

Most Recent Issue: June 2020  

Most-recent CME Article: Electroacupuncture to Increase Neuronal Stem Cell Growth 

New Scientific Research

Electroacupuncture for post-stroke overactive bladder: a multi-centre pilot randomized controlled trial
[Acupuncture in Medicine]
“A six-session EA treatment was feasible and appeared to reduce OAB symptoms in post-stroke patients.” 

Electro-acupuncture regulates glucose metabolism in chronic stress model rats
[Scientific Reports]
“The effect of electro-acupuncture on improving chronic stress is likely to be achieved by regulating glucose metabolism, which can provide a reference for clinical acupuncture treatment of chronic stress depression.”

Trends in Insurance Coverage for Complementary Health Care Services
[The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine]
“The likelihood of reimbursement for complementary health care services is significantly lower than that for primary care physicians …. Lack of insurance coverage may result in reduced patient access to such services.”

Scientific Research

Read more evidence-based research on acupuncture and its applications in medical practice.

Copyright 2020 by American Academy of Medical Acupuncture
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