Good news! L & I is beginning the process to add East Asian Medicine Practitioners as approved providers to serve injured workers in WA State!! WEAMA has been working with the Labor and Industries (L & I) on a literature review to provide evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture for five years. We narrowed the scope of the literature review to Low Back Pain as that is one of the highest incidents of worker injuries.
We received confirmation from Leah Hole-Marshall, L&I -Medical Administrator, that they are going to proceed with policy options for adding acupuncture for low back pain as a covered L&I service. This will initiate the agency rulemaking process. They will submit a CR 101 soon to start the official regulatory process. The process may take up to a year to complete.
They are still reviewing evidence and will have a more formal briefing ready within a week or so, but the upshot is that due to the evidence WEAMA provided a high-quality literature review, along with the AHRQ review, that shows low and moderate quality evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic back pain. No significant adverse events are known, so safety was not a high concern.
They are also reviewing a high-quality purchasing strategy (Healthy Washington 20/20) to identify how acupuncture can fit in to both value based and best practice purchasing that ensures injured workers do not fall through the cracks. They will need to present their findings and recommendations to IIMAC and ACHIEV for their feedback which will be in January 2017.
Many thanks to Lisa Taylor-Swanson and Megan Kingsley-Gale, Jen Stone, Mercy Yule, Jacob Godwin and our whole cadre of reviewers/data extractors. We would NOT have crossed this threshold without each and every person!