Sacramento, CA – June 24, 2024 — Governor Gavin Newsom has retracted the proposed budget cuts to the Medi-Cal acupuncture program for low-income Californians for the 2024-2025 budget year. This decision marks a significant victory for healthcare providers and advocates who have long championed acupuncture as a vital component of comprehensive medical care.

The initial proposal would have eliminated much-needed acupuncture benefits for millions of low-income beneficiaries. The governor faced substantial pushback from the acupuncture community, Medi-Cal beneficiaries, and legislators in both the state Senate and Assembly.

Acupuncture was legalized in California in 1976 and has been an integral part of Medi-Cal healthcare since 1989. Its inclusion in the program reflects the growing acceptance and efficacy of acupuncture in treating various ailments, from chronic pain to mental health disorders. Over the decades, numerous studies have validated the therapeutic benefits of acupuncture, leading to its greater integration into mainstream medical practice.

However, this is not the first time acupuncture benefits have been threatened with cuts in the Medi-Cal program. Acupuncture was removed from Medi-Cal in 2009 but was successfully reinstated in 2016 thanks to persistent advocacy from the acupuncture community, notably spearheaded by the American Association of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture (AACMA). This effort also garnered crucial support from Assembly members Phil Ting, Rob Bonta, and David Chiu back then.

The preservation of acupuncture benefits in Medi-Cal this time is largely credited to collaborative efforts among the acupuncture community, key legislators, and Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

The six association members of the California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC) have played a vital role in the effort to save Medi-Cal acupuncture services. The leaders of the American Association of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture (AACMA) have been instrumental in communicating with key legislators, convening stakeholders for budget cuts hearings, and mobilizing the public to voice opposition to the governor’s plan. The leaders of the American Korean Acupuncture Medical Association of California (AKAMAC) and the California State Oriental Medical Association (CSOMA) have been essential in contacting budget committee members, initiating and promoting online petitions against budget cuts. The leaders of the American Society of Chinese Medicine (ASCM), the Japanese Acupuncture Association of California (JAAC), and the California Acupuncture United Association (CAUA) have made significant contributions to conveying our opposition to budget committee members. Additionally, teachers and students from acupuncture schools across California, including the Academy of Chinese Culture & Sciences, the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine School, Alhambra Medical University, California University-Silicon Valley, Dongguk University Los Angeles, and Five Branch University, joined the effort. Furthermore, medical facilities such as North East Medical Services (NEMS) and Chinese Hospital voiced their opposition on behalf of the beneficiaries they serve.

The unified support of legislators like Senator Scott Weiner, Assemblymember Evan Low, Assemblymember Phil Ting, and Assemblymember Alex Lee has directly impacted the positive outcome of the budget cuts on acupuncture. Additionally, the opposition from Medi-Cal beneficiaries has underscored the importance of preserving acupuncture services.

The California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC) extends gratitude to Governor Newsom for preserving acupuncture services in the Medi-Cal program and thanks everyone for their contributions to this achievement.

Heartfelt gratitude and applause are extended by the California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC) to Senator Scott Wiener, Senator Caroline Menjivar, and the leaders of the California Asian American and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus (AAPILC), including Assemblymember Evan Low, Assemblymember Phil Ting, and Assemblymember Alex Lee, for their advocacy on behalf of the acupuncture community and response to the needs of low-income beneficiaries.

The California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC) commends the exemplary leadership of AACMA President Dr. Chulong Xue, Vice President Dr. Lin Yang, AKAMAC President Dr. Bon Cho, CSOMA President Tiffany Tufftee, L.Ac, and Executive Director Dr. Ra Adcock. Commendation also extends to Dr. Victoria Ru Tuan and Dr. Daisy Hong Liu from ASCM, JAAC President Dr. Saori Minota and Vice President Nobuko Ide, Dr. Sun Lee from AAAMA, Dr. Jane Li and Dr. Kexin Bao from CAUA, Marilyn Allen, Director from AAC Insurance Group, Jessica Ho from NEMS for their significant effort and support.

Furthermore, the California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC) strongly encourages acupuncture students and practitioners to join acupuncture associations to further promote this essential branch of medicine.

About The California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC):

The California Acupuncture Coalition (CAC) serves as a platform for California acupuncture associations to unite their voices and collaborate on acupuncture legislation. Comprising six acupuncture associations in the state, including the American Korean Acupuncture Medical Association of California (AKAMAC), the American Association of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture (AACMA), the California State Oriental Medical Association (CSOMA), the American Society of Chinese Medicine (ASCM), the Japanese Acupuncture Association of California (JAAC), and the California Acupuncture United Association (CAUA), this coalition has a history of working together on legislative issues. After a period of dormancy, it now officially resumes its mission to stand united in advancing acupuncture as a vital component of healthcare in California and to work on legislative initiatives within the state.

About the Author: 

  1. Tiffany Tuftee, L.Ac., serves as the President of CSOMA. A steadfast advocate for East Asian Medicine, she is deeply committed to advancing the practice of acupuncture in California. Her initiatives focus on creating job opportunities, enhancing sustainability within the profession, and educating allied healthcare practitioners on the essential role acupuncture plays in modern healthcare. Under her leadership, CSOMA is dedicated to ensuring that acupuncture remains a vital component of the state’s healthcare system, promoting comprehensive and holistic patient care. Contact email: president@csomaonline.org
  2. Dr. Lin Yang, California Licensed Acupuncturist, instructor, Vice President of AACMA, decade long volunteer of AACMA. Contact email: yangshealingmethod@gmail.com

 

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AdvocacyGovernor Newsom Upholds Acupuncture Benefits in Medi-Cal Amid Budget Cuts