O&P Looks Secure as Congress, Obama Hammer Out Budget Details

In a recent statement released by the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics, Peter W. Thomas, JD, general counsel for the NAAOP, discussed the most recent developments in the O&P industry regarding the federal budget and Medicare payment reforms.

Thomas described President Obama’s proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2013, which would take effect on Oct. 1, 2012 if passed. However, the proposed budget would produce a $1 trillion deficit overall, and an agreement within Congress is unlikely. The Senate has already claimed that it will not produce a budget for 2013 at all.

“The reason for this is the budget discussions and the debt ceiling agreements from last summer produced certain spending targets for fiscal year 2013,” Thomas said in the statement. “And so in large measure, the federal agencies already know the overall numbers that they are supposed to receive in funding in the next fiscal year.”

The other development Thomas discussed is the delay of the 27.4% Medicare physician payment cut that was scheduled to take effect March 1. An agreement between the House and the Senate has been reached; President Obama signed legislation into law, Feb. 22 as part of the payroll tax reduction extension package.

The extension will also prevent scheduled therapy caps from taking effect. Certain extensions will be given to those who require more therapy than the cap would limit.

Both extensions will be maintained through the rest of the fiscal year, which creates an $18 billion deficit over 10 years that will be amended through offsets in other fee schedules.

“The Medicare physician fee schedule often creates a situation where other fee schedules, like the O&P fee schedule, could be rated as an offset to try to pay for some of those changes,” Thomas said. “I am happy to say that the O&P field will not be impacted by any of those offsets. There has been a fair amount of advocacy to make sure that that did not occur.”

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