Managed Physical Medicine

Washington State Launches Acupuncture Pilot Program

An effort to include acupuncture as a covered treatment in workers’ comp in Washington state is finally starting to pay off, as the Department of Labor & Industries is launching a pilot program of acupuncture to treat low back pain.

Beginning Oct. 1, qualified providers participating in the Washington pilot program (which will run for two years) will be paid to use acupuncture to treat injured workers with low back pain related to an accepted condition on a workers’ compensation claim. The hope is that coverage of acupuncture for low back pain will extend to other conditions as well.

While payers and patients still have mixed feelings about the practice, a 2017 study by the University of York indicates that acupuncture is more than a placebo, showing promise as a treatment option for both chronic pain and depression.

Given widespread concerns about the opioid epidemic, acupuncture may be a viable alternative in the trend towards conservative care.

About MedRisk:

MedRisk’s managed physical medicine program for injured workers includes more than 1,425 acupuncturists nationwide.