The ASVA membership meeting was April 7th and I’ve been meaning to write about it ever since. I heard good things about the associated weekend seminar, the setting was lovely, and ASVA received support from a number of vendors. Two folks stepped up to fill open positions on the board, and it looks as though good things are happening for the group. I remember well the hard work it takes to run an organization and big events like this one – kudos to the board for their efforts.
The survey results, though, diminished my good spirits (and please read 6 even if you skip the rest!) —
1) 75% of respondents replied yes to supporting efforts to add Acupuncturists to the list of covered providers in the Social Security Act. I only wish the profession had more information about what a successful effort would entail, the odds of success, and the potential impacts of success. I have seen nothing that comes close to a well-done analysis of these issues.
2) 82% support the national effort to include acupuncture as a federally mandated EHB. The current HHS policy is that if a state does not establish their own EHB, the federal government will rely on existing plans within that state to establish an EHB. Any efforts to include acupuncture in a federally mandated EHB would first require a complete change in how HHS is establishing EHB for states. I don’t know of any active national effort to bring about this change and unless the acupuncture community believes that we can win an argument with all of the states and the US Congress about greater federal control of healthcare, an arena more typically left to the states, this is a non-starter. (And if we were successful it would have some huge impacts for us that I have not seen discussed anywhere — I’ll be posting about it one of these days.)
3) 75% support fundraising for the purpose of updating the Virginia scope. There wasn’t any conversation about what changes anyone had in mind, so I’m not sure what people are supporting. See my March 26 post about scope for more on this issue, but, based on what was said at this meeting, there is still a lack of understanding of what “scope” means.
4) Only 60% supported a grassroots campaign to support the election of legislators supportive of acupuncture. Perhaps ASVA members are reading this blog? I hope my look at the question and the relative lack of support for the strategy as stated does not translate to a lack of involvement with our legislators. It is super-important that we, as individuals, get involved in local campaigns and stay involved with our state politicians. Done right, this is one of the most important things we can do, and a great place for help from our state organizations. The tricky part is doing it so that we develop allies, not create enemies.
5) 68% supported fundraising for legislative efforts to restrict other professions from practicing acupuncture. I can’t begin to imagine a way that such legislation could be successful in Virginia — where low regulation and the free market seem to rule (except in matters of the uterus). I can imagine many ways the mere introduction of such legislation could create division and hard feelings with fellow health professionals.
6) About 10% indicated they’d be willing to serve on a committee. Which leads me to two thoughts —
a) (and most obviously) – success in any of these areas would require far more than 10% of the profession to step up and serve. Of course, being on a committee isn’t the only way, but we’d all need to be involved and contributing time and money.
b) (and most importantly) – it is easy to say we support an idea or an action in the abstract. But when we are in touch with the real time and effort a yes entails, it’s not so easy. Questions 1-5 would have a far greater impact on our day-to-day workload and life than serving on a committee. So, colleagues, before you say you support inclusion in Medicare or legislative action or acupuncture as an EHB, give it just as much thought as you would the decision to serve on a committee.