The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) announced several upcoming major deadlines and changes occurring in Washington, DC.

First, the release for the President’s budget for fiscal year 2014 has been delayed and is expected to be published within the next few upcoming weeks.

Another deadline is March 1, which is the deadline for Congress to pass a delay of or alternative to spending cuts. If Congress is unable to devise an agreement, one of the cuts includes the Medicare program, which would see a 2% reduction in all provider reimbursement.

The existing continuing resolution that funds all federal agencies will expire on March 26 unless a resolution to continue to fund the federal agencies throughout the rest of the fiscal year or if a series of appropriations bills which funds the federal government is passed.

Finally, the debt ceiling has been suspended until May 19, giving Congress 3 more months to reach agreements on spending, reducing spending — primarily in entitlement programs — and tax reform changes to try to balance the budget and reduce the national debt.

Along with this information, the Congressional Budget Office announced that health care spending was extremely low for the third year in a row.

“This has created a much lower spending rate on health care in this country then was expected and that’s been occurring over the last several years,” Peter Thomas, of the general counsel of the NAAOP, stated. “That has a materially positive impact on the ability to reduce the debt and deficit.”

Along with new deadline information, the NAAOP announced that the HHS has continued to implement the Affordable Care Act, releasing new regulations that will be covered by the Medicaid program. The NAAOP is working to ensure that O&P care is considered a benefit under those plans and programs.

Region B and the Durable Medical Equipment Medicare Administrative Contractor also came out with additional guidance on defining functional levels of physician documentation of Medicare claims and what is required for physicians who are documenting their own files. The NAAOP believes that these pronouncements are creating an onerous standard for documentation.

“We think the files are not even in the control of the prosthetist, and yet the prosthetist is on the hook for returning that money to Medicare at the same time they need to pay the manufacturers for the component parts that go in the prostheses,” Thomas said. “It’s a no-win situation for the prosthetists and it’s something we’re taking very seriously and trying to do all we can to try to move forward and improve the situation.”

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