The failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to reach a compromise on a budget package to reduce the nation’s deficit by $1.2 trillion will trigger across-the-board spending cuts beginning in 2013. The sequestration enforcement will cut both defense and non-defense spending, including spending on health care programs, unless Congress acts to block or alter the cuts.
Although certain entitlement programs like Medicaid and Social Security are exempt from the pending sequestration cuts, Medicare providers, including O&P practitioners, could lose up to 2% in reimbursement fees if the sequestration is implemented in its current form, according to a statement from the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP). In addition, Medicare providers still face a 27% cut in Medicare payments scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2012 unless Congress intervenes.
The cost of fully repealing the current physician fee schedule formula would be approximately $300 billion. However, a 1-year fix costing several billion dollars is more likely. To offset the cost, Congress could implement a number of fee cuts for other types of Medicare providers, including O&P practitioners. Therefore, the O&P Alliance is actively monitoring Congressional activity and advocating to protect the O&P profession.
Conversely, the movement of the physician fee schedule legislation will provide a legislative vehicle on which to potentially attach O&P legislation favored by the NAAOP and the O&P Alliance organizations, namely, the Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Improvement Act of 2011, H.R. 1958.
NAAOP is making similar efforts to have the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights (H.R. 805) considered in the closing days of the first session of the 112th Congress, but the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees are not focused on this bill heading into the end of the session. It is more likely that 2012 will offer a meaningful opportunity to press for Congressional passage of this important VA legislation.