President Obama’s dream to have health care made available and affordable to all is essentially guaranteed now that he has been re-elected. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, is set to go into effect in 2014. As I understand it, complementary and alternative health care providers might be better covered by insurance than they are now. On this Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, I have a dream for people plagued by chronic pain, people like my mother and those who try acupuncture as a last resort in what they feel is a hopeless situation. I hope everyone will have the opportunity to explore acupuncture as an option, at least for the list of symptoms which the World Health Organization has deemed acupuncture effective in treating. I have personal and professional reasons for wanting this.
Personally, my mother experienced debilitating back pain for many years and saw many doctors to no avail. She did not have good health insurance, so it was a huge burden financially on my family. She died when I was 29 from complications arising from back surgery. It was emotionally devastating.
Professionally, I have seen just how valuable acupuncture is in treating many symptoms as well as being an excellent way to prevent disease. A few years ago, a new patient came to see me with medical records in hand and a date scheduled for back surgery. He came to me as a last resort, on a referral from a friend. After two sessions, he experienced relief from the pain and cancelled his surgery.
In order to become licensed to practice acupuncture in New York, I had to complete three years of rigorous Master level academics, along with extensive clinical work, before passing the equally rigorous National Boards exams. Of course this is just my personal opinion, but I think it would have been easier to go to medical school. Learning the exact location of hundreds of acupuncture points, along with the philosophy and fundamentals of Eastern medicine, is very difficult for the Western mind to comprehend and put into practice. But that is what our training involved.
Now it is up to those who have the decision making authority to create guidelines and to determine whether or not acupuncture will be considered worthwhile to be included in everyone’s health care plan. There is work to be done as the 900-page piece of legislation known as Obamacare is put in practice. I hope the right people are representing our profession. At this point, acupuncturists are not yet guaranteed that our hard work will be recognized as I believe it should. Please let me know if there is a way I can help.
Congratulations, Mr. President, on your second inauguration. I hope your dream of making quality healthcare available and affordable to all will become a reality. And I hope that acupuncturists, who practice one of the oldest and most used medicines on the planet, will be given the place we rightly deserve in your vision.