Letter from Alice Neily, MAS Legislative Consultant to John Bohanen, Sponsor of HB 1305
Delegate John Bohanen April 4, 2005
Lowe House Office Building
Annapolis MD 21401
Fax: (410) 841-3386
Dear Delegate Bohanen,
On behalf of the Maryland Acupuncture Society, which conducted its annual membership meeting on Saturday, April 2, I wish to register concern about the legislation which seeks to employ a unique plan to establish an alternative health care program in the state employee benefit package.
At first review of the bill, the inclusion of acupuncture seemed positive. Under further review, HB 1305 raised concerns for access and quality of health care for policy holders. While acupuncturists have the utmost respect for the intent of the sponsors, they believe that this bill has serious unintended consequences.
At this late date it appears that you might not act further on this bill. However, prior to any further action, I am requesting that you amend the bill to remove Acupuncture from the body of the legislation.
While MAS knows that acupuncture is a cost saving practice and an effective form of health care that is used to diagnose and help millions of people become and stay well, MAS has concerns about the billís implications for the high standards of access and care which Maryland licensed acupuncturists provide to Maryland citizens, often without any private insurance.
Alternative Medicine Integration, AMI, the company which seeks passage of this legislation, has been pursuing itís business proposal for one and one half years in Maryland and has not yet made an effort to explore the concept with the Maryland Acupuncture Society.
When AMI learned that MAS was prepared to testify and offer amendments, a telephone call was arranged the evening before the hearing to address concerns. On the following day, amendments were not shared with MAS and no further initiative was taken.
These actions convey that there is little serious interest in the issues raised by the MAS, which represents the very profession needed to transform projected Stateís savings into AMIís profits.
My client has many unanswered questions that we hope to have resolved before the bill proceeds any further. For the record, let me identify a few:
If this proposal can save $14 million dollars a year, why has the State Employees Benefit manager not pursued it already? Should not any savings by the use of alternative medicine go to the subscriber / patient in lower premiums? At what cost to the quality of acupuncture care would this proposal be implemented? What has the actual experience been in other states? Would the gatekeeper prevent access? Why is there not a defined fee structure? Why is there not a defined referral system? What is the level and quality of care that patients receive? Why is there not a defined level of preparation for licensees? Why would an entity other than the State Practice Board determine qualifications? Is there access to out of network providers? Who will determine the credentialing and participation? Who will determine the level of reimbursement? How will licensed acupuncturists retain control over quality? Why did BCBS not testify to their cost savings 4 year research based experience in Illinois to which AMI referred?
We know you will understand that licensed acupuncturists are a highly evolved form of health provider who have no interest in participating in a capitated system of service which will interfere with the current level of care which our patients receive.
We are requesting that you will meet with my client during the Interim to discuss this matter. If you can find the time, please communicate with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (410) 353-3861, regarding your preferences.
With gratitude for your excellent work and consensus seeking manner, I remain
Legislative Consultant to MAS