June 12, 2009

Texans Thwart Double Certification Move

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The Lone Star state has marked a victory against the forces of bureaucracy.

According to Mark Kirchner, CPO, LPO, vice president of the Texas chapter of the Association of Orthotists and Prosthetists (TAOP), Texas professionals had been struggling since 2005 against the Texas Department Of Health (TDH) Drugs and Medical Devices Division, which was threatening to force all O&P facilities to comply with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) medical-devices-distributor licensure requirements and fees. When the Texas Board for Orthotics and Prosthetics (TBOP) protested, TDH escalated its efforts until October 2008, when it threatened to enforce the regulation on all Texas O&P facilities, with fees back-charged for the five previous years, totaling approximately $1,400-$3,000 per company.

TAOP and TBOP stepped up to the challenge, combining forces with the Texas chapter of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (TCAAOP) to employ the lobbying firm Hillco Partners, Austin, Texas, to change O&P practitioners' occupation code under Texas law. The American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) also hired two specialist lawyers to assist, one of whom had helped draft the 1976 legislation upon which the current FDA law is based. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), a division of the Texas FDA, agreed to cooperate with the coalition and worked with Hillco, TBOP, and TAOP to amend the O&P practitioners' occupation code to exempt them from the fees. The new rule was passed on May 21 and signed into law on May 27.

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