The 2016 Policy Forum and O&P Legislation Writing Congress was a huge success! Initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive about the new experience of drafting a bill to take to the Hill. Participants broke into groups to discuss their highest priorities for legislation, and after reconvening, the resulting “Prosthetic and Orthotic Care Modernization Act of 2016″ focuses on separating O&P from DME, reimbursing only credentialed O&P providers, protecting custom O&P from competitive bidding, and rescinding last year’s LCD. Senator Kerrey took the bill to meet with Senators on Capitol Hill and attendees took the bill to discuss at their meetings with their Senators and Representatives.
Another “big news” story announced at the Policy Forum was the introduction of H.R. 5045 on April 25 by Representatives Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Janice Schakowsky (D-IL). The bill, “Preserving Access to Modern Prosthetic Limbs Act of 2016” imposes a moratorium until June 30, 2017 on CMS and the DME MAC’s implementation of the flawed Local Coverage Determination Policy Article. It would also require CMS to remove the original proposal from the website, which has been a magnet for private insurers like United Healthcare and Cigna to deny certain coverage based on provisions in the since discredited proposal.
The legislation gave AOPA members a terrific story to tell legislators and Congressional staff during the more than 350 appointments arranged on behalf of the 135 O&P professionals that donned their advocacy hats during the April 27th visits to Capitol Hill.
Representative Ellmers was the opening keynote speaker for the Policy Forum and set the stage for the advocacy briefings that followed throughout the afternoon program. Other members of Congress joining her for the briefings were Senator Warner (D-VA) and Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) who is in a hard fought contest for the Illinois Senate seat now occupied by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). The O&P PAC sponsored a lunch for Rep. Ellmers, a reception for Senator Warner and a breakfast for Rep. Duckworth that were all well-attended and provided an opportunity for AOPA members to engage in serious conversations about the challenges facing O&P providers and patients. All three legislators shared their own concerns about the proposed LCD and other restraints imposed by CMS that hinder the most advanced patient care.