Medicare proposal would pay for acupuncture to treat lower back pain

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed on Monday to cover acupuncture for patients suffering from lower back pain registered in clinical studies. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that it's part of trying to combat the opioid crisis.

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“This reflects President Trump’s deep commitment to tackling the opioid crisis,” he told FOX Business’ Dagen McDowell during an interview on “Mornings with Maria” on Tuesday. “One of the things that we’ve got to do is provide either pharmaceutical or non-pharmaceutical alternatives to these legal opioids that 50 million Americans need because they suffer from chronic pain and they need something, and we’ve seen some promise with acupuncture but we need to generate more data.”

Azar said the administration has proposed that Medicare would pay for senior citizens to enter into clinical trials to test whether acupuncture can be an actual means of treating lower back pain.

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The Health and Human Services Department spends an average of $100 billion per month, according to the Treasury Department. Medicaid and Medicare account for 86 percent of the estimated costs.