The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) has released a video webcast wherein NAAOP General Counsel Peter Thomas, JD, discussed the effects of the shutdown of the federal government which began on October 1; the potential effects of breaching the federal government’s debt ceiling, expected to occur on October 17 if agreement is not reached between the president and Congress; and the October 1 opening of the health insurance exchanges as part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Thomas said that the immediate effects of the federal government shutdown are minimal to O&P, primarily because Medicare and Social Security are mandatory spending programs. Therefore O&P and other providers will continue to be paid with minor delays at the contractor level, Social Security recipients will continue to receive their benefit checks, and the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital system will remain open and veterans will have continued access to benefits.
Thomas also addressed the federal debt ceiling, which must be increased by October 17 to prevent the federal government from defaulting on payment of obligations already incurred. The risk to “the full faith and credit of the federal government,” could result in another downgrade to the nation’s credit rating and cause disruption across world markets, Thomas said.
By the end of the first day of open enrollment in the ACA’s health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, which Thomas called “the center of the structural overhaul of the health insurance market,” the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had recorded more than 2.8 million visits to the exchange website. Thomas pointed out that 85 percent of the funding for ACA implementation is not funded through the annual appropriations bills. Coupled with the small employer exchanges and the Medicaid expansion, in the 25 states that have chosen to expand, approximately seven million uninsured Americans are expected to secure new coverage by March 2014. These new insurance options are expected to cover O&P in most states, but states have some discretion to choose their covered benefits.
The webcast is posted on the NAAOP website, shared with members via e-mail, and made available through the NAAOP page on Facebook.