The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) released its latest webcast in which Peter Thomas, JD, discussed the impact of the January election in Georgia, O&P legislation, the durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) proposed rule change, among other topics.
Election Impact: With the January run-off elections in Georgia flipping the Senate to Democratic control, the thin margins in the House and Senate “spell difficulty for a host of progressive policies,” including Medicare for All, creation of a public insurance option, and lowering the Medicare age to 60 years old. Though bipartisanship will be at a premium, with a budget process known as reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes in the Senate to pass certain legislation, there is still much opportunity to achieve O&P objectives, Thomas said.
O&P Legislation: With all of the key House and Senate champions of the Medicare O&P Patient-Centered Care Act returning to Congress, quick reintroduction is expected. The bill would separate durable medical equipment (DME) from O&P, reform the definition of off-the-shelf (OTS) orthotics, exempt licensed and certified orthotists and prosthetists from competitive bidding, and ban drop shipping of custom O&P to patients’ homes.
The bill will continue to compete with COVID-19 relief legislation, but legislative vehicles on which to attach this bill will be available later this year and next, Thomas said. In addition, the Triple A Study Act, which would dramatically improve the data the profession has on O&P prevalence, use, and insurance coverage, is also expected to be introduced in the coming months, he said. NAAOP supports both of these bills and urges its members to request their members of Congress to become cosponsors of the bills.
DMEPOS Proposed Rule: In the closing days of the Trump Administration, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services collected comments on its 2021 Proposed Rule on DMEPOS, but did not have time to issue a final rule. There were several important proposals in this year’s rule—which is currently on hold until the Biden Administration decides how it wants to proceed. Of particular note are the improvements to the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) coding and pricing processes, including the way CMS determines the benefit category of new technologies, Thomas said.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Final Rule on Prosthetics: Last December, the VA issued its final rule on prosthetics, clarifying that veterans have a role in deciding which practitioner can provide their care. The final rule, however, still grants the VA authority to make this determination. Since NAAOP spearheaded the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights, NAAOP has made veteran choice of practitioner a top priority, Thomas said.
Sexual Harassment: Maggie Baumer, JD, NAAOP president-elect, has been chairing an O&P Alliance Subcommittee on sexual harassment. An upcoming NAAOP video will feature Baumer’s report on the status of this initiative and to seek further engagement on this issue across O&P.
The webcast is posted on the NAAOP website.
For further legislative analysis from Thomas and NAAOP, watch for “Washington Welcomes New Faces and New Opportunities for O&P Priorities” in the March issue of The O&P EDGE.