The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics & Prosthetics (NAAOP) released it latest webcast in which Peter Thomas, JD, discussed the COVID-19 pandemic’s lasting effects.
Visiting Washington to walk the halls of Congress will return as the primary way to impact legislators, but virtual advocacy is also here to stay and it offers the O&P community new tools to achieve its legislative objectives, Thomas said.
Practitioners and patients can visit NAAOP’s website and access the Congressional Action Center to connect with their representatives to promote two bills:
Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Patient-Centered Care Act (H.R. 1990)
Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA), G.T. Thompson (R-PA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) have reintroduced this bipartisan bill in the House. A Senate companion bill is expected to be reintroduced in early June.
Thomas said NAAOP strongly supports this legislation and it needs to demonstrate support for this bill by adding congressional cosponsors. The bill is identical to the House version of the bill introduced last year (H.R. 5262), which means NAAOP can build on the awareness and support for the bill from the previous Congress, he said.
The bill would accomplish four key priorities for the O&P profession: Distinguish durable medical equipment from clinical, service-oriented O&P care in the Medicare statute and regulations; limit the definition of off-the-shelf (OTS) orthotics to devices that truly require only minimal self-adjustment by the beneficiary; ban drop-shipping to patients’ homes of custom fit and custom fabricated orthoses and prostheses to prevent fraud and abuse and ensure patient access to clinical O&P care; and finally exempt licensed and certified O&P practitioners from OTS competitive bidding, treating them similarly to physicians and therapists by allowing them to provide OTS orthoses to their patients—without a contract—at the competitive bidding rate (not the higher fee schedule amount).
Triple A Study Act (S. 1089 and H.R. 2461)
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Representatives G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-01) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY-02) recently introduced the Access to Assistive Technology and Devices for Americans Study Act, known as the Triple A Study Act. This bill is identical to the Senate (S. 4343) and House (H.R. 8581) versions of the bills introduced last year, which means NAAOP can again build on the awareness and support for the bill from the previous Congress, Thomas said.
The bill would direct the Government Accountability Office to craft a report evaluating appropriate coverage and provision of health care services to people with limb loss or limb difference, including access to care, policies for matching specific devices to individual needs, affordability, and more. In addition, it would create an “apples to apples” comparison of coverage policies and usage across different payers, including Medicare, the Veterans Health Administration, and the commercial insurance market.
NAAOP is encouraging everyone in O&P to visit NAAOP’s website and access its action page to email your representatives and ask them to cosponsor these bills.
The latest webcast is also posted on the NAAOP website.