The COVID-19 pandemic’s lasting effects will be felt world-wide and its impact on Washington advocacy is no exception. Flying to Washington to walk the halls of Congress will return over time as the primary way to impact legislators, but virtual advocacy, in some form, is here to stay and it offers the O&P community new tools to achieve its legislative objectives. We urge practitioners and patients alike to go to www.NAAOP.org and access the “Congressional Action Center” to connect with your representatives. You should feel empowered to directly seek a videoconference with your Member of Congress or staff to promote two important bills:
- Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Patient-Centered Care Act (H.R 1990)
Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA), GT Thompson (R-PA), GK Butterfield (D-NC), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) have re-introduced this bipartisan bill in the House. A Senate companion bill is expected to be re-introduced in early June. NAAOP strongly supports this legislation and we need to demonstrate support for this bill by adding Congressional cosponsors to it. The bill is identical to the House version of the bill (H.R. 5262) introduced last year, which means we can build on the awareness and support for the bill from the previous Congress.
The bill would accomplish four key priorities for the orthotic and prosthetic profession: (1) Distinguish durable medical equipment (DME) from clinical, service-oriented O&P care in the Medicare statute and regulations, (2) Limit the definition of “off-the-shelf” (or “OTS”) orthotics to devices that truly require only “minimal self-adjustment” by the beneficiary him- or herself, (3) 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 (4) 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 we can build on the awareness and support for the bill from the previous Congress. The bill would direct the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) 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.
We urge all NAAOP members and friends to contact their legislators and ask them to cosponsor both of these important bills. Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of the O&P profession.