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We thank all of our members as well as others who attended our first web platform annual meeting by Zoom on September 27, 2020. After a Zoom anonymous poll vote, I am honored to have been elected this year’s president for the New Mexico Society of Acupuncture and Asian Medicine, NMSAAM.

Dr. John Scott, as our immediate past president, is inspirational to follow, and I will do my best to make us all proud. He did an excellent job of navigating through Zoom to lead our first web platform annual meeting in the new normal of the Covid 19 pandemic. I personally thought that Zoom was a fun workaround to the pandemic restrictions, and it allowed DOM’s across our large state to more easily attend, saving gasoline, time and wear-and-tear on our vehicles. Dr. Scott’s legacy goal for us is Unity.

My goal is to be a Gan Cao president within that Unity; a harmonizer. We all want our society to grow in its inclusiveness. We are a diverse group of healers, and when we do unify, we amaze even ourselves with what we can accomplish. It has recently been brought to our attention by one person that some folks have thought that NMSAAM has been closed and inaccessible to other DOM’s in New Mexico. Our new VP, Dr. Bernadette Lujan, says; “let’s work to change that impression!” One way we can start is to implement an NMSAAM listserve for DOM communications, because we saw how eagerly the chat section of our Zoom annual meeting was used.

We do want to hear from you about your needs and wants, and I personally would like to know each and every one of you.

Our board members at large include a lovely balance of seasoned, new and some new to the state DOMs with a variety of interests, skills and backgrounds, from education, insurance, communications, community and business to legislature.

Three days after the elections and before most transition details were implemented, our Insurance Chair, Dr. Amanda Wheat, was rudely yanked into action, because we were informed that CMS* plans to eliminate acupuncture CPT* codes and just use the new dry needling CPT code. She had four and a half days to have NMSAAM comments for CMS by 3 o’clock MST on Monday October 5th. She submitted the comments within two days. Her big concern is that this doesn’t just affect someone who plans on taking Medicare. All insurance companies use the RVUs* set by CMS to determine their fee schedules. By eliminating the acupuncture codes from CMS, they would eliminate them from all insurance reimbursements, reducing the income dramatically for those acupuncturists who primarily have insurance patients. That also filters over to direct pay acupuncturists.

Acupuncturists across the country very quickly unified about this through our national group, the American Society of Acupuncturists, ASA, where we have experts who rapidly researched pertinent details for us. The ASA research was accessed easily from the NMSAAM web site in the scrolling national news feed and ASA News column on the lower right of the site. So that individuals could also more easily submit their own comments in time for this appallingly short deadline, we sent an e-blast to NM DOMs and also posted the information on the NMSAAM Facebook page. The CMS has 30 days to process all of the letters, so they have until November 5th, 2020.

Behind the scenes, we volunteers at NMSAAM have been working hard to update our website and coordinate it with the ASA. The site has a Find an Acupuncturist section for visitors to plug in their zip code and/or specialty interest and find NMSAAM DOMs on a map. Our governance committee, chaired by Dr. Steven Malins, has been continuing to grow this society up to be more transparent, inclusive, and professional. You do not have to be on the NMSAAM Board of Directors to benefit from membership in NMSAAM. You can attend a CE webinar, be on a committee or simply pay membership dues and reap benefits. We have a number of active committees at this time; Membership, Governance, Public Relations, Legislative, Web Site, and Communications, which includes continuing Ed. We would love for you to bring your ideas!

We have a talented, diverse community of DOMs in New Mexico. Let’s work together to help balance our world during and after the Covid 19 pandemic, where our time just might be now to especially help people with our body of medicine. I often ask my patients, what are the blessings that you have found during these challenging times? They do find plenty of positives when they start thinking about it, and we can also. At least we can find creative workarounds as we navigate these interesting times.

* CMS = Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services           * RVU = Relative Value Units           * CPT = Current Procedural Terminology code