More than 100 supporters gathered at the annual AOPA Policy Forum in Washington DC April 2-4 to discuss a recently passed Medicare bill that will prevent policy changes and reimbursement cuts for O&P providers.
“Practitioners from all over the country came to Washington and learned about O&P policy,” Peter Thomas, JD, general counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics & Prosthetics (NAAOP), stated in congressional update webcast. “We had all kinds of practitioners, patients and students go to Capitol Hill.”
Signed into legislation April 1, the bill will prevent a 24% cut in Medicare reimbursement for physicians, physical and occupational therapists, and fund the physician fee schedule until March 15, 2015.
Post-acute care was also secured as a way to counter policy change costs, and Congress did not include bundling provisions that would affect O&P care for Medicare beneficiaries after hospitalization, according to a statement from the NAAOP.
The NAAOP also noted other key legislative efforts, including:
- New legislation being drafted by the O&P Alliance that would improve the Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) audit and appeals process and expedite denied claims. The bill would also establish O&P clinician’s notes as a part of a patient’s medical records.
- The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights House Resolution (HR 3408) and NAAOP’s collaboration with the VA committee in the House of Representatives to advance the bill. The draft legislation now has 36 cosponsors.
- The O&P Medicare Improvement Act (HR 1958), which would link the right to bill the Medicare program with the qualifications of the practitioner or supplier of care. Thomas said the NAAOP is working to attach the bill to a Medicare bill to help ensure its passage.
Thomas said that O&P members built support through the forum, and will continue to advocate for their community.
“I think there was a significant energy that came from the O&P field that was imparted on Capitol Hill,” he said. “It presents an opportunity for us to put forward proposals in favor of the orthotics and prosthetics profession.”