Diversity & Inclusion in the O&P Profession with Regina Weger and Lisa Lodyga-Uhl

NAAOP invited Regina Weger, President, Products and Services, Hanger, Inc. and Lisa Lodyga-Uhl, Vice President, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Hanger, Inc. to share by video this important initiative on Hanger’s behalf.

 

Additional Resources:

Hanger Diversity & Inclusion Pledge

Hanger Diversity Scholarships

Managing Bias

 

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Senate Introduces S. 2556:  Medicare O&P Patient-Centered Care Act

The Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Patient-Centered Care Act has been introduced in the United States Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.  This is companion legislation to H.R. 1990, an identical bill in the U.S. House.  Both bills are bipartisan with the Senate bill being introduced by six original sponsors of the legislation, including:

  1. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia who serves on the Finance Committee;
  2. Steve Daines (R-MT), also a Finance Committee member;
  3. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a champion of the O&P profession and prosthetic user;
  4. John Cornyn (R-TX), a senior Republican on the Finance Committee;
  5. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), a physician on the Finance Committee, and
  6. Charles Grassley (R-IA), former Chairman of the Finance Committee and long-time champion of O&P legislation.

The bill would accomplish four key priorities for the orthotic and prosthetic profession:

  • Distinguishes durable medical equipment (DME) from clinical O&P care
  • Limits the definition of “off-the-shelf” (or “OTS”) orthotics to devices that truly require only “minimal self-adjustment” by the beneficiary only
  • Bans drop-shipping to patients of custom fit and custom fabricated orthoses and prostheses to ensure access to clinical care, and
  • Exempts 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.

Now we need YOUR help to build support for this legislation.  Please visit our action page to easily email your Senators and ASK THEM TO COSPONSOR THIS BILL simply by filling in your contact information and selecting your Senators. We urge you to take the time to customize your message to inform your Senator how this bill impacts you and your colleagues in the state.

If you have not contacted your Congressman, please take this opportunity to also reach out to that office and encourage them to cosponsor companion legislation in the House, H.R. 1990.  You can identify your Congressmen, Senators, and learn how to easily communicate with them at www.NAAOP.org.

NAAOP thanks the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) for its efforts in getting this bill introduced in the Senate.  We also thank our O&P Alliance partners for their support of this important bill.

Finally, thank you for your continued support of NAAOP and policies to advance the O&P community!

 

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Virtual Advocacy Offers O&P Community New Tools to Advance Legislation

 

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:

  1. 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).

  1. “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.

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NAAOP and Range of Motion Project celebrate Limb Loss Awareness Month

NAAOP is proud to partner with the Range of Motion Project (ROMP) for Limb Loss Awareness Month as part of their national component collection drive.

 

Launching in April, and continuing throughout this spring, ROMP is collecting new and gently used prosthetic components from clinics, manufacturers, and individuals throughout the United States to ensure ROMP’s clinics in Guatemala and Ecuador can continue to provide high-quality prosthetic care to access-limited people with amputation. This is part of ROMP’s Components for a Cause (C4C) year-round component recycling program.

 

Nicole Ver Kuilen, NAAOP’s Inaugural Fellow and Consumer Vice President, is helping to lead this effort with ROMP. Ver Kuilen shared, “April is Limb Loss Awareness Month and it’s critical we acknowledge the fact that 9 out of 10 amputees worldwide do not have access to prosthetic care. This month, we can do something about that.” 

 

ROMP will cover the cost of shipping and donated components will go directly to use in changing someone’s life. It’s as simple as signing up and requesting a free shipping label! Recently, ROMP implemented a QR code tracking system to increase transparency and impact. Every knee, foot, and liner donated is tracked all the way to the patient, so donors know exactly who they’ve helped become mobile.

 

“What better way to help those with limb loss during this important month for the O&P community than through this project that our first Fellow is working on. NAAOP and our Board of Directors congratulate every organization and individual involved in making the lives better for those with limb loss worldwide,” shared George Breece, Executive Director of NAAOP.

 

ROMP now has over 150 clinic partners in the United States who have joined the movement for equitable access to prosthetic care. This represents just 5% of clinics nationwide, which is why ROMP is calling for hundreds more to join in the effort. In 2020, ROMP collected over 5,000 pounds of components and hopes to collect 7,000 pounds in 2021. 

 

Dave Krupa, CPO and ROMP Executive Director and Co-Founder shared, “Since 2005, ROMP has been working with the most marginalized individuals in the Americas who would otherwise not have access to prosthetic care. We are proud to share that we just surpassed our 4,000th prosthesis delivered in 2021. This journey would not be possible without ROMP’s C4C donors and partners like NAAOP who are dedicated to breaking down economic and systemic barriers that keep individuals from obtaining the freedom that comes from mobility. We believe in mobility for all.”

 

About NAAOP

The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics is a non-profit trade association dedicated to educating the public and promoting public policy that is in the interest of the O&P patient. Since 1987, NAAOP has shaped positive results in healthcare legislation and regulation through strong government relations advocacy and education of policymakers. NAAOP serves the profession by representing and partnering with only those providers of orthotic and prosthetic services who truly believe that the patient must come first. For more information please visit: https://naaop.us/

 

About ROMP

The Range of Motion Project is a global, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the mobility of people with amputation. ROMP realizes its mission by providing high-quality prosthetic care, follow up services, community-based rehabilitation, and product innovation through its permanent operations. Since 2005, ROMP has delivered over 4,000 custom-made, high-quality prosthetic devices in Guatemala, Ecuador, and the U.S., and conducted over 10,000 patient visits. In the next 5 years ROMP plans to raise $5 million dollars to deliver 5,000 prosthetic devices to those in need. To learn more or help advance their mission, please visit https://www.rompglobal.org/.

 

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House Introduces Medicare O&P Patient Centered Care Act!

Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA), GT Thompson (R-PA), GK Butterfield (D-NC), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) have re-introduced the bipartisan Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Patient-Centered Care Act (H.R 1990).  NAAOP strongly supports this legislation along with the organization that took the lead on introduction of this legislation, AOPA, as well as the other members of the O&P Alliance.

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.  It would:

  • Distinguish durable medical equipment (DME) from clinical, service-oriented O&P care in the Medicare statute and regulations, leading to recognition of the clinical care O&P practitioners provide.

 

  • 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. This would help ensure that patients continue to have access to the clinical orthotic services they need.

 

  • 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

 

  • 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).

Now we need your help to build support for this legislation.  Please visit NAAOP’s website and access our action page to easily email your Representatives and ask them to cosponsor this bill simply by filling in your contact information and selecting your Representative to send the message to. If you can customize your message to discuss how this bill impacts you, all the better.

Thank you for your continued support of NAAOP and policies to advance the O&P profession!

 

 

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Harassment Education – Request for Feedback

 

The Alliance Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment has worked hard to combat sexual harassment in the O&P field. We are eager to hear your feedback as we plan our programs for 2021. Please click here and participate in the short survey that should take less than 5 minutes to complete

 

 

 

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New Congress and Administration Get Started

 

Election Impact:  The January run-off elections in Georgia flipped control of the U.S. Senate to Democratic control, propelling Senator Chuck Schumer to Majority Leader and casting Vice President Harris as the vote that will likely break many ties in the next two years.  This unlikely result means Democrats control the House, Senate and Executive Branch, with Joe Biden being sworn into the Presidency on January 20th.  Razor thin margins in both the House and Senate spells difficulty for progressive policies like Medicare for All, creation of a public insurance option, and even lowering the Medicare age to 60 years old.  Bipartisanship will be at a premium, but with a budget process known as “reconciliation,” which requires only 51 votes in the Senate to pass certain legislation, there is still a lot of opportunity to achieve O&P objectives.  And the Biden Administration is showing signs of being very active on health policy, which does not require Congress’ approval.

 

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 in the coming months.  The bill would separate 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 which will take most of the oxygen out of the Congressional agenda, but legislative vehicles on which to attach this bill will be available later this year and next.  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.  NAAOP supports both of these bills and urges our members to request their Members of Congress to become cosponsors of the bills.

 

DMEPOS Proposed Rule:  In the closing days of the Trump Administration, CMS collected comments on its CY 2021 Proposed Rule on Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies, 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 in the proposed rule are the improvements to the HCPCS coding and pricing processes, including the way CMS determines the benefit category of new technologies.  NAAOP will be closely monitoring this rule and will report new developments to the NAAOP membership.

 

Veterans Administration Final Rule on Prosthetics:  In late December, the VA finally issued its final rule on prosthetics, clarifying that veterans do, in fact, have a role in deciding which practitioner will be able to provide their care.  But the final rule 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.  For this reason, NAAOP will continue to closely monitor this situation and will intervene further if necessary.

Sexual Harassment:  Maggie Baumer, J.D., President-Elect of NAAOP, has been chairing an O&P Alliance Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment.  Look for the NAAOP video coming soon that will feature Maggie as she reports on the status of this important initiative and seeks further engagement in this issue across the O&P profession.

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National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP)