The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) has released the following statement regarding its efforts to promote O&P’s agenda in the national healthcare debate:
Nine Weeks of Intensive Efforts Underscore Healthcare Reform Debate
The first of June began nine weeks of intensive efforts to reform the nation’s healthcare system. By the time of the congressional recess beginning in early August, five major House and Senate committees are expected to introduce and mark up legislation reforming the nation’s healthcare system, including the Medicare and Medicaid programs, culminating in House and Senate floor action in late July and early August. If the schedule holds, Congress will spend the fall reconciling the House and Senate versions of these bills and sending the final bill to President Obama for his signature. Simply put, this is the most active time in recent memory for issues impacting the O&P profession, both in terms of broad healthcare changes that may impact the field as well as specific legislation that may offer significant opportunities and potential threats.
A reform of the rules that permit private health insurance plans to medically underwrite their policies and discriminate based on health status will benefit O&P consumers and the providers who serve them. But if O&P care is either omitted from benefit packages offered by private insurers, or limited by exclusions and arbitrary dollar caps, then reform will not achieve its promise. A key goal of NAAOP and many other O&P organizations is to promote a federal parity bill that applies to prosthetics and custom orthotics. What began as a consumer effort organized by the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) at the state level has blossomed into a federal initiative to enact O&P parity, and the timing of this effort could not be better.
The Prosthetic and Custom Orthotic Parity Act of 2009, known as HR 2575, would provide coverage of prosthetic and custom orthotic devices and component parts, as well as their repair and replacement, under the same terms and conditions applicable to other medical and surgical benefits provided under health insurance policies. The bill was introduced on May 21, 2009, by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) and assigned to the Committee on Education and Labor. Original co-sponsors include Reps. George Miller (D-CA), Chairman of the Committee, Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Todd Platts (R-PA), Joe Sestak (D-PA), and Al Green (D-TX). Senate introduction of a companion bill is expected soon. These bills allow the O&P community to rally around specific legislation and to illustrate the need to have private insurance coverage of O&P benefits. With the national healthcare reform debate in full swing, this message is critical to promote at every opportunity.
In addition, many of the long-standing Medicare goals of the O&P field have been delayed by CMS as that agency has yet to issue regulations that would link Medicare payment with practitioner/supplier qualifications and the complexity of O&P care. AOPA [American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association] has brought significant advocacy resources to the table in this regard, culminating in introduction of the Medicare O&P Improvements Act of 2009, known as HR 2479. This bill seeks to save Medicare dollars through the elimination of fraud and abuse, the improvement of quality care, and an explicit link between payment and qualifications of practitioners/suppliers. The bill was introduced May 19, 2009 by Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and was assigned to the Energy and Commerce Committee and to the Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) is an original House cosponsor and companion Senate legislation is expected soon.
This year is expected to set O&P policy for years to come, and your strong voice will benefit the O&P profession in this important debate. Thank you for your continued support.