NAAOP’s success in the public policy arena has been a result both of leadership that puts patient care interests in the forefront and also its willingness to partner with sister organizations to effect public policy that is clearly in the interest of the O&P patient. As volunteer president of NAAOP, it is my honor to be associated with individuals who have lead the field in this challenging area of government relations. As we go forward, I think it is important to review the milestones in NAAOP’s history of O&P healthcare legislation and regulation.
NAAOP’s focus has always been the patient. Since its inception in 1987, NAAOP’s efforts to advance the interests of the O&P patient in Washington have been lead by a consumer advocate, Peter W. Thomas. Peter’s first role with NAAOP was as Consumer Vice-President. NAAOP’s first successful initiative was to advocate for research dollars for O&P. This resulted in the National Center for Rehabilitation Research at the National Institutes of Health. Peter Thomas was an original member of the National Advisory Council for the NCMMR of the NIH. O&P research is a principal focus of the center.
Another milestone that put orthotics and prosthetics on a national forum was Peter Thomas’s role as Chairman of the Subcommittee of The Patient Bill of Rights. Over NAAOP’s 20-year history, NAAOP and its volunteer leadership has raised awareness of O&P, has monitored the policies being promoted in Washington, the bills that are introduced, rules that are proposed and the impact of all these issues on O&P patients and providers who serve them. You, our members, have been critical to the success of the associations to date. Because of your commitment, O&P patients have had ongoing representation in Washington.
As NAAOP’s efforts evolve to meet new challenges, strategies have become more defensive than offensive, collaborative ties with sister organizations more critical, as we, a relatively small field in healthcare, compete for representation in the larger healthcare arena. NAAOP has a long history of cooperative work with sister organizations on consensus views. Recently, that aspect of NAAOP’s efforts became more formalized in the creation of the O&P Alliance, a cooperative effort of the Academy, ABC, AOPA, and NAAOP that formed in January. The individual chosen by the four groups to lead the O&P Alliance is NAAOP’s Principal Lobbyist and General Counsel, Peter W. Thomas. NAAOP is proud to be a member of the newly formed O&P Alliance.
Regular Monthly Updates and Periodic Alerts
As a NAAOP member, you will continue to receive regular government relations updates. Going forward, you will receive a NAAOP monthly update and periodic alerts as needed on both NAAOP’s efforts and NAAOP’s work with the O&P Alliance. NAAOP’s over-riding goal has and will continue to be to promote public policy that is in the interest of O&P patients. We will be there to make sure that the profession prospers because the patient is our focus. We are your voice for professional O&P patient care.
Sincerely, Mark DeHarde President, NAAOP