Seventy-five leaders from the O&P field met with more than 80 members of Congress and their staff in March to deliver the positive message on how the profession and AOPA can help find savings in Medicare by urging more aggressive efforts at curbing fraud and abuse, enforcing licensing laws for access to reimbursement and the benefits of enacting state and federal parity laws.
AOPA board member Brian Gustin said, “The Policy Forum was one of the best I have attended. I had fruitful meetings with all of the people I had appointments with.”
The keynote address by Sen. Robert Dole, former Senate Majority Leader and Co-Chair of the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors, focused on the current and likely future of the O&P profession.
Kerry Weems, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) warmed to the industry’s offer to create a stronger collaboration among the industry, CMS and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Weems also discussed CMS’ support of the Medicare competitive bidding program and surety bonds with attendees. The agency’s support of these programs will require that AOPA and its members remain diligent in their efforts to ensure O&P’s involvement in these programs remains minimal.
Fred Downs, chief consultant for the Prosthetic Sensory Aid Service, Veterans Health Administration, gave a special briefing articulating the Department of Veterans Affairs’ position that veterans deserve the best possible care regardless of cost as the honor-bound duty of the U.S. government. He was joined by Donald Dempsey, associate director for Human Resource Programs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), who painted a dire picture for the Medicare Trust Fund which, if not fixed soon, could create catastrophic problems in the future.
Lobbying experts from Congressional offices, major lobbying firms and Rep.Michael Ferguson, (D-NJ) all shared their expertise on how best to tell the story of O&P to educate and convince members of Congress and their staff on how O&P is different from DME and deserves a stronger distinction in future Medicare legislation.
Attendees were energized by the 3-day event and many plan to follow up with their Congressional delegations to ensure continued support of these policies. For copies of the position papers, visit www.AOPAnet.org.