Bill Seeks to Provide Acupuncture to U.S. Veterans

U.S. veterans could get access to acupuncture under a bill introduced last week in the House of Representatives.

The bill to require veterans health facilities to provide acupuncturist services was sponsored by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), who said she has seen the benefits of acupuncture in treating pain and other health problems.

"But I've also seen how stigma or lack of understanding of acupuncture and traditional Asian medicine has put it out of reach for many as insurance won't cover the treatment," Chu said in an email to NBC News. "This means fewer options at exactly the time when we need more."

Acupuncture would offer a "non-addictive alternative" to opiates for pain management, Chu said. The bill has the support of a number of groups, including the American Legion.

Evidence about the effects of acupuncture is mixed. For example, a review of studies about acupuncture published in the Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine journal in 2015 found that while some studies suggested that acupuncture is beneficial, others concluded the procedure has a placebo effect, NBC News reported.

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