Gubernatorial Candidate Threatens to Drop Acupuncture From Insurance Plans
By Editorial Staff
After serving two terms as the governor of Washington state, Gary Locke chose not to run for re-election of the state's highest political office in 2004. As a result, the race for governor has been declared wide open by many of the state's political experts, with the leading candidates being current attorney general Christine Gregoire, and Dino Rossi, a former state senator.
One of the most important issues voters must consider is each candidate's stance on health care.
Under Washington's "Every Category of Provider" law, which was passed in 1996, insurance carriers are required to provide access to all types of health care providers licensed or certified under state law. Also known as the "alternative provider" statue, the law requires insurers to cover services provided by all of the state's licensed categories of health care providers, including acupuncturists, chiropractors, medical doctors, naturopaths, physician assistants, registered nurses, podiatrists and licensed massage therapists.
Yet if Mr. Rossi has his way, acupuncture could become the first of many health care services that would no longer be covered by insurance. According to a statement on Rossi's Web site, under the heading "Health Care - Access for All" and available at www.dinorossi.com/meet/healthcare.php:
"We need strong regulation of insurance companies, but we need smarter regulation than what we have now. Obviously, something's wrong when costs are so high and choices are so few. We've got to change the status quo so people have access to more affordable health care. We should start with re-assessing all the mandates that have been loaded onto our health care system ... for example, does it make sense that every insurance plan is required to cover acupuncture? I think most reasonable people would say no."1
The statement on Rossi's site is not the first time he has hinted at removing acupuncture from the list of mandated health care services. In September, after officially winning the Republican nomination to run for governor, Rossi unveiled his campaign platform during a news conference at Seattle University. On the subject of medical insurance, Rossi denounced what he called "unnecessary" health insurance mandates, and stated that if elected governor, he would give insurance companies more freedom to drop coverage for certain services. The only service that he mentioned by name during the speech was acupuncture.2
In response to his comments, on October 8, Acupuncture Today sent a series of questions to Mr. Rossi to clarify his stance on acupuncture and why he considered it "unnecessary." AT also Mr. Rossi whether he had ever tried acupuncture or any form of traditional Chinese medicine before; and what other health care services he would consider eliminating as a requirement for insurance companies.
Questions were sent to Mr. Rossi's campaign office by fax and e-mail. However, as of this writing (October 15), Acupuncture Today has yet to receive a response from Mr. Rossi or a member of his staff.
Fortunately, Mr. Rossi's Web site contains several ways for interested parties to contact him, including phone (425-646-7202), fax (425-646-7207) and e-mail (
). More information on Mr. Rossi and his stance on acupuncture and other forms of health care can be found at www.dinorossi.com.