by Wyn Staheli, Director of Research
February 20th, 2020
In the ChiroCode Newsletter released yesterday regarding Medicare coverage of acupuncture, one sentence in particular has let to some confusion. Specifically, "However, the way that it is currently worded, a chiropractor cannot ‘order’ acupuncture, BUT they may provide the services as an auxiliary provider as long as it is ordered by a physician meeting their requirements."
To be clear, a Doctor of Chiropractic can not perform the acupuncture service through their chiropractic license, even if they have taken the NBCE exam for acupuncture and possess a certificate for acupuncture for their state, regardless of whether there is a physician referral. They may only perform the service if they meet ALL the 'auxiliary personnel' requirements listed in the box that follows the opening paragraph.
We have since made a revision to the original article to make this clear. The original sentence has been revised to say (change is underlined) "However, the way that it is currently worded, a chiropractor cannot ‘order’ acupuncture, BUT they may provide the services as an auxiliary provider as long as it is ordered by a physician and meets ALL the NCD requirements."
Further, we have added an "Update" at the end which enumerates the three key elements necessary to meet Medicare's requirements. It states:
In summary, you must meet ALL three of the following requirements:
A masters or doctoral level degree in acupuncture or Oriental Medicine from a school accredited by the Accreditation Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM)
A current, full, active, and unrestricted license to practice acupuncture in your state (includes territory, or commonwealth (i.e. Puerto Rico) of the United States, or District of Columbia)
As an 'Auxiliary personnel' the chiropractor must be under the appropriate level of supervision to meet Medicare's 'incident to' requirements
If you do not meet ALL three requirements, you are not eligible to perform acupuncture on a Medicare beneficiary. Please keep in mind that this is only for Medicare and individual payer policies and/or state requirements may vary from the information presented in the article.