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Photo: Aytug Can Sencar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Medicare is considering paying for acupuncture, which would be a controversial move, the Washington Post reports.

What's happening: The change would be part of a push to provide alternative, non-pharmacologic ways to address chronic pain amid the opioid crisis. Coverage would be only for chronic low-back pain.

  • Acupuncture proponents note its safety and say that it's worth covering even if it only works for some people.

Yes, but: There's research showing that in many cases, acupuncture isn't much more effective than a placebo.

  • "The whole thing is a big scam," Steven Novella, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine, told the Post.

Go deeper: The states using medical marijuana for opioid substitutes

Go deeper

A new Washington

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Image

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the city should expect a "new normal" for security — even after President-elect Biden's inauguration.

The state of play: Inaugurations are usually a point of celebration in D.C., but over 20,000 troops are now patrolling Washington streets in an unprecedented preparation for Biden's swearing-in on Jan. 20.

Mike Pence calls Kamala Harris to offer congratulations and help

Mike Pence. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty

Vice President Mike Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance in the transition, the New York Times first reported.

Why it matters: The belated conversation came six days before the inauguration after a contentious post-election stretch. President Trump has neither spoken with President-elect Joe Biden, nor explicitly conceded the 2020 election.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The coronavirus variants: What you need to know

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New variants of the coronavirus circulating globally appear to increase transmission and are being closely monitored by scientists.

Driving the news: The highly contagious variant B.1.1.7 originally detected in the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March if no measures are taken to control the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

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