The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) has released its latest webcast in which general counsel Peter Thomas, JD, announced its two Policy Fellows for 2019, doubling the size of the NAAOP Fellowship program since the 2018 pilot program. NAAOP’s inaugural fellow was Nicole Ver Kuilen.
Susannah Engdahl is a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering from the University of Michigan, with a major focus on O&P research. Thomas said Engdahl will be helpful in promoting the importance of evidence-based O&P practice, research, the O&P registry, and other important public policy issues impacting people requiring orthotics and prosthetics. Having grown up using myoelectric prostheses due to congenital absence of both hands, Engdahl has a strong interest in applying science to improve functional outcomes for individuals who use prostheses. Thomas said Engdahl “lit up the selection committee with her energy and enthusiasm.”
Alicia Carver is a born advocate with an enthusiasm for advancing O&P care to benefit people with limb loss and limb difference, Thomas said. A graduate of Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in technical and applied studies, Carver has experience with state-based advocacy and brings the insight of individuals who experience the challenge of accessing prosthetic care in rural areas. Carver was born with amniotic band syndrome and bilateral clubfeet. She has bilateral transtibial amputations.
Engdahl and Carver will experience a ten-week policy fellowship starting in May and continuing through August and will be based in Washington, DC, with NAAOP serving as the principal host and sponsor.
The webcast also included a discussion regarding off-the-shelf (OTS) orthotic devices. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it will proceed with Medicare competitive bidding of OTS orthoses over the next year and a half, culminating in implementation in 2021. This marks the first time CMS has expanded competitive bidding to O&P. Twenty-three knee and back orthoses will be impacted by the program. Although this is the only type of O&P care authorized by law to be competitively bid, CMS interpreted the term “off-the-shelf” very broadly, impacting more than just orthoses that require minimal self-adjustment. This risks losing the clinical care associated with these codes, Thomas said.
NAAOP is working with its O&P Alliance partners to address its concerns with CMS and is expected to introduce legislation to serve as an alternative to competitive bidding of OTS orthotics, among other O&P priorities.