February 11, 2016

NAAOP Supports Passage of S. 800: Legislation Should Lead to Greater Emphasis on O&P Research at NIH

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The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) issued a statement supporting passage of the Enhancing the Stature and Visibility of Medical Rehabilitation Research at the NIH Act, S. 800, as follows:

NAAOP applauds the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) for favorably reporting out of committee a modified version of the Enhancing the Stature and Visibility of Medical Rehabilitation Research at the NIH Act, S. 800, introduced last year by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

S. 800 is designed to improve, coordinate, and enhance medical rehabilitation research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) is the lead agency within NIH that funds rehabilitation science. NCMRR’s mission is to conduct and support rehabilitation research, “including orthotic and prosthetic research and development.” O&P research is the only specifically referenced type of rehabilitation research in the 1990 law that created the NCMRR. The 1990 law was the product of compromise legislation spearheaded by NAAOP’s predecessor organization, the American State of the Art Prosthetic Association.

S. 800 is supported by a wide coalition of consumer, clinical, and research organizations, including NAAOP, the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists, and the Amputee Coalition.

NAAOP commended Senators Kirk and Bennet as well as HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) for including in the bill many of the recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Medical Rehabilitation Research established by NIH in December 2012. We are particularly supportive of the provisions in the bill designed to enhance strategic coordination within the NIH director’s office and with other agencies to update and streamline medical rehabilitation and O&P research priorities. We also support the provisions in the bill that specify that the research plan must be updated every five years following a scientific conference or workshop, provide for progress reports, and include a definition of medical rehabilitation research that reflects the importance of an individual’s ability to improve his or her functional status after an illness or injury.

“We urge the full Senate to pass S. 800 and send the bill to the House of Representatives to enact H.R. 1631 as revised by the Senate bill,” said David McGill, JD, president of NAAOP. “Enactment of this legislation will send a powerful message that our nation can and must improve the evidence base of medical rehabilitation, including orthotic and prosthetic care, so that individuals with limb loss and other orthopedic conditions can return to work, live as independently as possible, and have a high quality of life.”

Peter Thomas, JD, NAAOP general counsel, added, “We intend to build on this bill’s passage to prompt NIH to conduct and support O&P research that is more clinically focused and patient centered.” George Breece, NAAOP’s founding executive director, said, “Since our inception, NAAOP has been an organization committed to greater funding and support for O&P research. We are pleased to join nearly 40 other national organizations in strongly supporting S. 800 and look forward to seeing the bill enacted this year.”

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