HomeHealthProposal to cut acupuncture from Medi-Cal opposed

Proposal to cut acupuncture from Medi-Cal opposed

By Randall Yip, Executive Editor

(Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with comments from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office)

San Francisco resident Mollee Bekele has felt a deep pain in her joints and muscles for ten years.

“Suddenly I’m having pain in these areas that keep me up at night…causing migraines and dizziness. It feels like if you have a toothache and you can suddenly feel the roots of your teeth.”

She told AsAmNews no amount of pain medication eased her severe discomfort. It’s only in the last six months has she managed that pain with acupuncture treatments.

A proposal by California Governor Gavin Newsom would eliminate acupuncture from coverage under Medi-Cal, the state Medicaid program for low-income people.

Today representative of Northeast Medical Services, Chinese Hospital and NICOS Chinese Health Coalition spoke out against the proposed cuts.

“Acupuncture is a part of AAPI cultures and helps connect the mind, body and spirit. This practice has been known already for managing pain, reducing stress and also improving quality of life,” Dr. Lili Qiao of NEMS said by phone to AsAmNews.

In the past seven years, Northeast Medical Services has treated 23,000 patients with acupuncture.

Qiao predicts losing acupuncture as an option will worsen the mental health crisis and increase anxiety and depression. She fears the loss will even put more pressure on the health care system.

“Many people will be suffering. Those with a chronic pain might turn to opioids or other pain medications, which can lead addictions. And that’s a public health crisis right now.”

Bekele agrees, saying the use of acupuncture actually lowers health care costs. She feels cutting the treatment will end up increasing the budget deficit.

“The thing about acupuncture is it’s both treats whatever is going on, but it’s also preventative, right? It’s helping me function in so many other ways in so many other areas.”

California’s current budget deficit is $68 billion. AsAmNews reached out to Newsom’s office and his office late today referred us to a comment he made earlier.

“The proposed budget overwhelmingly supports and maintains core programs without cuts. I prefer not to make any budget cuts. Many of the programs facing reductions are programs I’ve long advanced and supported. We don’t find any joy in this — but we’ve got to do it, we have to be responsible. We have to be accountable. We have to balance the budget.” 

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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