CMS considers covering some acupuncture treatments under Medicare

CMS has issued a new proposal to cover acupuncture for Medicare patients with chronic low back pain in clinical trials supported by the National Institutes of Health or CMS-approved studies.

The studies will evaluate the impact of, and how to best implement, acupuncture treatment of adults age 65 and older with chronic low back pain, according to CMS. 

"By focusing on older adults and addressing the limitations of previous published research, evidence derived from this initiative would assist CMS in determining future Medicare coverage for acupuncture treatment," the agency said.

The proposal is part of the federal government's efforts to address the U.S. opioid crisis by offering more evidence-based nonpharmacologic chronic pain treatment options. 

Under Medicare, coverage includes injections, braces and medicines for chronic low back pain, on a conditional basis, according to The Washington Post. CMS said in its July 15 announcement that the proposal would help review evidence to determine if whether Medicare should also cover acupuncture. 

The agency is seeking comments on the proposal through Aug. 14.


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