The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) has released a webcast in which NAAOP General Counsel Peter Thomas, JD, discusses the new set of challenges and opportunities that will confront O&P patients and providers in 2017.
O&P Research: NAAOP participated in a major effort to pass S. 800/H.R. 1631, Enhancing the Stature and Visibility of Medical Rehabilitation Research at NIH [National Institutes of Health] Act. This legislation will elevate the stature and better coordinate rehabilitation and disability research at the NIH, including O&P research and development. O&P research policy and funding was the issue on which NAAOP was founded 30 years ago and NAAOP continued to have an impact on this critical issue in 2016.
ALJ Appeals Backlog: In a major victory for Medicare providers in which NAAOP counsel participated, the DC District Court recently compelled the secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to eliminate the extensive backlog of Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Medicare cases by 2020. HHS must now figure out how to dispose of the cases within the court’s timeframe. The government may appeal the decision by the deadline in early February, but pressure will continue to build on HHS to settle thousands of ALJ appeals to reduce the 750,000 case backlog. NAAOP will push to have O&P claims considered for potential settlements, assuming providers have the option to accept the settlements.
Incoming Administration and the 115th Congress: The incoming Trump Administration and a Republican-led House and Senate will mean that many proposals to fundamentally restructure and reform major government healthcare programs will be hotly debated, and significant changes to longstanding programs may occur, including:
- Affordable Care Act: Repeal and replace the existing private health insurance law
- Medicare: Restructure the program into a “defined contribution” approach
- Medicaid: Repeal Medicaid expansion and “block grant” the traditional program
Despite serious challenges on many fronts, incoming HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD, a former Georgia congressman and orthopedic surgeon, understands the world of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies and may offer some key opportunities to advance O&P policy. NAAOP said it will continue to assess all proposals based on their impact on the O&P patient and the providers who serve them, and is expecting an extraordinarily busy year.
“Thank you for your past membership and continuing support of NAAOP and we look forward to confronting the challenges and opportunities in 2017 together,” Thomas said.