Congress will see a number of changes in the wake of the Nov. 4 elections, and comments and forecasts have been issued by both National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics & Prosthetics and the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association. The new Congress will convene in January 2015.
Republicans won control of the Senate, which means the party controls both houses of Congress. As noted by the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics & Prosthetics (NAAOP) statement, two Senate seats remain undecided and seven Representative positions are still undecided.
According to a statement from Thomas F. Fise, executive director of the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA), 25 of the 28 candidates supported by the AOPA Political Action Committee (PAC) were elected. Fise stated, “We made a strong commitment to new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and we are hopeful his election will be a big plus for O&P.” The AOPA PAC also supported candidate Bill Cassidy, a Republican who will participate in Louisiana’s December runoff election, and Senator-Elect James Lankford (R-Okla.), who Fise said “in his former capacity as Chair of the House Oversight & Government Reform Health Subcommittee earlier this year was very helpful in focusing attention on the perils of RAC audits and ALJ delays impacting O&P professionals.”
Additionally, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) won re-election with support from the AOPA PAC, and Fise stated “we are confident she will continue to draw focus on O&P issues.”
The NAAOP’s predictions for the upcoming year include “piecemeal reform” of the Affordable Care Act as well as “diminution of its funding” rather than a full repeal. AOPA’s prediction also claims a full repeal is unlikely. NAAOP officials expect legislators to focus specifically on the medical device tax and the employer and individual mandates.
According to the NAAOP statement, “a repeal of the medical device tax seems most likely to be advanced, given its bipartisan unpopularity,” but this action would lead to a loss of the $20 billion the tax is expected to raise between fiscal years 2013 and 2019.
NAAOP officials do not expect a repeal of the individual mandate, but according to its statement, “Democrats and Republicans … may be able to reach a compromise on certain changes to the employer mandate such as the 30-hour workweek.”
AOPA also addressed the likelihood of bipartisan compromise between the Senate-controlled Congress and the Democratic White House, with Fise stating that “much gridlock is likely to continue.”