Peter Thomas, JD, general counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP), discussed the impact and implications that this year’s presidential election will have on the O&P industry in a video statement.
Thomas said that certain champions of the O&P industry and health care issues, including Bob Kerry, former US senator and governor of Nebraska, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, Bob Filner, the ranking member of the VA committee, and Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle, the chair of the House VA subcommittee, will not return to Washington in 2013. However, Tammy Duckworth, an Iraqi veteran, amputee and prosthetic user from Illinois, will join Congress next year.
“We look forward to working with Tammy Duckworth and trying to do all we can to work with her on O&P care and O&P issues, as well as issues that impact the broader disability and chronic illness community,” Thomas said.
He also brought up policy issues, including reform of entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid, implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and O&P-specific policies. Thomas said that the proposals to block grant Medicaid and to voucherize the Medicare program will lose steam as a result of the election. However, “Medicare and Medicaid are not out of the woods,” he said. “There will be significant efforts to try to reduce spending in these two entitlement programs through the course of the budget debates that are soon to occur at the end of this year, as well as presumably early next year if Congress is not able to agree on a long-term debt reduction package.”
There may be some delay in the implementation of the ACA, while federal subsidies for individuals to purchase insurance may be trimmed, Thomas said.
“We’re expecting a flurry of regulations to occur and be released by CMS and HHS very soon, including the regulation of the essential health benefits package,” he said.
Finally, he said the NAAOP will attempt to move the O&P Medicare Improvement Act and the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights forward through Congress.
For the entire video statement, go to http://http://www.naaop.org/vid.asp?name=webcast_november-2012.mp4&scale=fit