Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is advancing legislation that would create competitive grants to institutions of higher education both for development of new O&P master’s programs, as well as expansion of existing O&P educational programs, according to the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association.
Included as Section 322 of S.1950, these new grants are consistent with the priorities of a 3-year joint NCOPE and AOPA project. Section 322 gives the Department of Veterans Affairs the authority to award up to $10 million in grants to institutions of higher learning to support the creation or expansion of programs of higher learning in prosthetics and orthotics. This legislation is different from the $10 million in federal funding for O&P outcomes research enacted into law last week.
The bill is in the early stages. “Once it is passed by the Senate, it must be reconciled with legislation in the House and signed into law,” according to a statement from AOPA. “Then, the Appropriations Committee must provide the funding for the VA to distribute. We look forward to Congress completing its authorizing bill quickly, and to working with the Appropriations Committee to include funding in the legislation that takes effect on Oct. 1 of this year.”