BOC Advances O&P Through Collaborative Alliance Endeavors

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By Jeff Price, Chief Operating Officer

Price, Michelle Yoon, and Chait at the AOPA Policy Forum.

This article continues our series of articles about the Orthotic and Prosthetic Alliance (O&P Alliance) to highlight united advocacy efforts in the profession. This issue features reflections about the role of the Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC) in the Alliance.

One of the values BOC embraces is teamwork, and working with the O&P Alliance serves as an extension of that value to the broader O&P community. BOC holds its membership in the Alliance in high regard and is proud of the progress the coalition has accomplished as a result of collective efforts through a unified voice. As the newest member of the Alliance, BOC offers a fresh voice from its perspective as an O&P credentialing organization.

Before joining the Alliance, BOC actively participated in national conversations influencing O&P issues. For example, BOC contributed to the creation and refinement of the DMEPOS (Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies) Quality Standards. BOC certification and accreditation is also recognized in the Benefits Improvement and Protection Act of 2000 (BIPA), which includes policies by which suppliers can bill the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the provision of custom-fabricated orthoses and prostheses. And, since 2006, CMS has recognized BOC as one of ten accrediting organizations for DMEPOS suppliers.

In 2008, when uniformly supported educational requirements were established for orthotist and/or prosthetist certification eligibility, BOC participated with the leaders of four other national organizations representing the clinical, business, and quality improvement aspects of the O&P profession by signing the document that has come to be known as the Historic Agreement.

BOC logo

BOC also joined the Alliance in voicing its support of House Bill (H.R.) 1958, the Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Improvement Act of 2011. The purpose of this bill (and its successor versions, which BOC also supported) included ensuring that CMS fully implemented existing O&P licensure, certification, and accreditation standards to protect patients from unqualified suppliers and practitioners. Additionally, the act limited facility accreditation for O&P to two accrediting organizations, one of which is BOC, and required that the accrediting standards for O&P suppliers were at least comparable to the standards established by those two accrediting organizations. Later that year, BOC accepted the invitation to join the Alliance.

To fully comply with the Historic Agreement's terms, beginning January 1, 2013, BOC changed its eligibility prerequisites for O&P certifications to require graduation from an education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, followed by a residency approved by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). Although the NCOPE residency requirement was not part of the original agreement, BOC considered this an important addition to its new standards.

As a full voting Alliance member since 2012, BOC is an active participant on biweekly steering committee conference calls and enthusiastically represents its stakeholders, the profession, and the patients they serve when voting on critical issues or visiting members of Congress and CMS leadership. Regulatory & Legislative Analyst Zack Chait is on staff at BOC to monitor and advise on regulatory and state licensure issues that affect its constituents.

BOC is honored to help lead the charge to support or protest important developments that impact the O&P community, such as CMS' proposed rule that would limit the care provided by orthotic fitters. More recently, when Medicare released a proposal that would limit access to lower-limb prosthetic care, BOC was quick to engage its board of directors, certificants, accredited facility personnel, and other stakeholders to join the Alliance's efforts to thwart the limitation by encouraging them to submit comments to CMS, their senators, and congressional representatives, and to sign the We the People petition asking for the rescission of the proposal.

BOC is passionate about the O&P profession and will continue to support and protect its constituents and the public through future collaborative efforts as a member of the O&P Alliance.

Editor's note: All member organizations of the O&P Alliance will be given the opportunity to submit their perspective about their involvement in the organization. Views expressed by the individual associations do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publisher.