House Passes Amendment Protecting Vets’ Access to Healthcare Providers

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The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) has been working with Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) to protect veterans with amputations' choice of an O&P practitioner. Those recent efforts resulted in the passage June 8 of an amendment by the U.S. House of Representatives that would oppose a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to eliminate the choice veterans' have in selecting a healthcare provider.

Walberg, chief sponsor of the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights (H.R. 2322), proposed an amendment to the 2019 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that would defund the section of the VA proposed rule denying veteran choice of provider, thereby prohibiting the VA from implementing or enforcing this regulation.

NAAOP also acknowledges The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA), which worked closely with Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL), who also supported the amendment. The bill now moves to the Senate where the underlying bill is expected to move expeditiously, according to the NAAOP. This amendment will give the O&P community time to work with the VA to ensure injured veterans have their choice of provider and continued access to care.

This follows efforts by NAAOP and other O&P organizations to oppose the proposed rule issued by the VA last fall that would change more than five decades of VA practice whereby veterans have had the choice of their prosthetist or orthotist, whether that O&P practitioner was a VA employee or a private practitioner with a contract with the VA. The proposed rule stated that the VA will have the "sole authority" to make this personal and clinical decision for veterans, calling it an "administrative business decision."